Panzanella Salad

 
I learned about this type of salad when I worked at The Tribune. That place taught me a lot about traditional European cooking.
This is an Italian bread salad that was traditionally peasant food, but is now  usually served in higher-end restaurants. It was invented as a way to get rid of day-old bread.
There are obviously many variations of this recipe. My recipe changes every time I make it. This is what I made last time, I didn’t measure any of the ingredients exactly, so all the measurements are approximate.

Salad

Two med to large tomatoes OR
Two cups grape tomatoes halved
I cucumber
I red pepper
Half a red onion
Two to three cups of French bread croutons
 
To prepare bread cut into ½ inch squares. Place in single layer on baking sheet drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, or until dried.
Let cool before adding to salad.
Chop all other ingredients and mix together in a bowl.
 

Picture 064
Dressing
 
¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp truffle oil
3 tbsp reduced balsamic
1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2.5 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper 
 
 Picture 008
Add bread and dressing to vegetables. Mix until well coated. Let sit for about five minutes before serving so the bread can soften.
 
Truffle oil can be eliminated, but it makes the salad go from good to great. Regular balsamic is fine if you don’t want to make reduced balsamic. I just like how it makes the dressing thick and clings to the salad.
Be very careful when cooking with truffles (oil, butter, etc) it is a very powerful flavour and if you overdo it easily, you will ruin truffles for yourself forever. I don’t know anyone who would be happy about that. Always start by using a small amount and adding more if needed.

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