This is my favorite summer salad. I've been making it for a number of years and it's a dish I look forward to every season. Whenever my friend Ashley would come over for dinner on her way home from work, she always requested I make this salad. And if I ever wanted her to come over, all I had to do was tell her I was going to make it and a few hours later, the buzzer would ring (much to our dog Lady's delight). I love it when a dish reminds you of a friend or relative, conjuring up memories of good food and laughter. Even though she's moved away from New York, I still think of her every time I make it. Maybe this post will tempt her for a visit sometime this summer...
I've been making this panzanella for so long, I'd forgotten where it originally came from. I dug through my old magazines and books and finally discovered the original recipe came from Lidia Bastianich's cookbook, Lidia's Italian Table. I love how rustic this salad is and how it makes use of whatever you have on hand. Day-old bread from the previous night's dinner is always a good excuse to make this salad (I find I make that excuse often). I love throwing in olives or kidney beans or any summer vegetables I happen to have lying around the kitchen. The toasted pieces of bread are like big crunchy croutons, which absorb the garlicy vinaigrette.
This salad is all about the tomatoes, so I like to seek out those especially yummy ones from the farmer's market. The ones pictured here are Jersey beefsteak tomatoes I picked up over the weekend. I often look for Heirloom varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It makes for fun eating! I love how the corn kernels look like little bits of confetti thrown in the mix. Their sweetness balances nicely with the acidity in the vinaigrette. A perfect celebration of summer.
TOMATO & BREAD SALAD WITH CORN (PANZANELLA):
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich, Lidia's Italian Table, and Saveur, Issue #130
3 to 4 medium tomatoes (about 1½ lbs.), cut into large wedges
2 ears of corn, husked, grilled, and cut off the cob (see notes below)
Half a French loaf or country style bread (about 6 oz.) torn into pieces and toasted (see notes below)
2 large handfuls of arugula (about 2 cups)
15 to 20 fresh basil leaves
Half a medium shallot or red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, corn, bread, arugula, basil, and onions. Toss to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic until well blended. Pour over the salad and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Toss again and let the salad sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, allowing the bread to absorb some of the dressing.
Yield: 6 servings
- Brush the corncobs with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on each side until you get some nice color.
- Toast the torn pieces of bread directly on the grill along side the corn.
- Feel free to add all sorts of things to this salad. I like throwing in beans, olives, or even feta cheese or slices of Parmesan when on hand.