Panza-what? This Tuscan salad is a mouthful to pronounce. Traditionally, it contains oil, vinegar, onions and other vegetables with the bread soaked in the liquid. My favorite way to prepare it keeps the bread slightly crunchy still and makes the most of those last few summer-kissed tomatoes.
Choose your ingredients wisely in order to get the best flavor from this salad. I used a variety of grape and cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, bocconcini and black cerignola olives. Bocconcini are little bite-sized mozzarella balls.
Black cerignola olives can be found at the olive bar in most grocery stores or in the jarred section of the Italian aisle. Stick with the olive bar or glass jars because olives from a can taste exactly like a can. They will likely pits and I have found the easiest way to remove them is to smash the olive with the palm of your hand until the pit pops out.
I chose a simple white loaf of bread that is not too chewy. Buy it whole so you can control the size of the bread cubes. Speaking of the bread cubes…aren’t they just so pretty all nice and toasted in garlicy heaven? Garlicy is definitely a word, right?
I prefer to cut my bread cubes before toasting so all sides get a nice little crust on them. Once they are done I stir them around with fresh cut up garlic, mix in the remaining ingredients and remove the raw garlic. Let it soak for a few minutes and then dig in. It is the perfect light lunch or side. Give it a try!
Notes: To make ahead, combine all ingredients with the exception of the bread. Add bread when ready to serve.
-1 loaf county or Italian style bread
-3 cloves garlic, cut in half
-2 pints assorted small tomatoes
-1 cup bocconcini or fresh mozzarella cut into cubes
-¾ cup black cerignola olives
-¼ cup basil
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper
-4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
-¼ cup olive oil (or more to taste if it is too dry)
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Cube bread into bite-sized pieces and place on sheet tray
-Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt
-Toast about 5 minutes
-Remove from oven and toss with garlic
-Slice each tomato in half
-Pit olives and roughly chop
-Roughly chop basil
-When bread is done combine all ingredients and toss
-Add more olive oil or balsamic to taste, if desired
-Remove garlic before serving