Panzanella: Giant Croutons > "Salad"
This is a loose and super easy interpretation of the panzanella recipe from Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman!) from the Food Network. I decided to make it because I had some leftover French baguette in the fridge. I just bought a few cherry tomatoes from the salad bar at the grocery store and then used what I had on hand.
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad; the majority of the dish is giant croutons > salad. That's my kind of salad; I'm not too big on salad. :) There are lots of different variations of panzanella; some even use cornbread.
Leftover or stale bread is great to make croutons in general. You just throw them in the oven.
Sunday, October 27, 2019: Attempt #1:
The Pioneer Woman's recipe is pretty easy. I made some adjustments based on personal preferences and what I had on hand.
In the recipe, she uses cucumbers, raw onions, and basil. I didn't; I don't like cucumbers or raw onions and I didn't have any fresh basil.
She uses fresh tomatoes. I don't like the taste of fresh tomatoes, so I cut them up and put them in the oven with the bread.
She used Parmesan; I used snack-size fresh mozzarella I had in the fridge.
I preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
I cut up and tore up some leftover baguette into ~1" cubes. You don't need to be too exact. I put them on the sheet pan, drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Because of my personal preference for cooked tomatoes (vs. fresh tomatoes), I also cut a few cherry tomatoes into small pieces and put them on the sheet pan as well.
I put the sheet pan in the 275 degree oven for ~25 minutes or so as in the recipe.
In the meantime, I cut up some fresh mozzarella and made a "vinaigrette". In a bowl, I put equal parts of oil and vinegar (~1 tablespoon each). The recipe calls for red wine vinegar, but I didn't have any around; I just used plain vinegar.
After ~25 minutes, I took the sheet pan, put everything together in a bowl (giant croutons, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella), then poured the "vinaigrette" on top. That's it!
It's easy. Total prep time is 2 minutes: In total, it takes ~30 min. You don't have to watch it closely and you can do other stuff while it is in the oven or you could make the giant croutons ahead time.
It was really tasty! If you want the croutons to be really crunchy, then you can increase the temp on the oven to 325 degrees or 350 degrees; you may need to bake them for a shorter amount of time though.
Give it a try when you have leftover or stale bread around! We are good at this!