A panzanella is an Italian bread salad. It's perfect for the Spring and Summer months when fresh vegetables are readily available. This is a great way to use fresh, homegrown tomatoes and herbs from your garden. The simplicity of this salad lets the flavor of each ingredient shine. You can use whatever veggies you like, but for me, it must always have some kind of bean or pea, tomatoes, and fresh basil...along with the bread, of course.
It's best to use bread that's a few days old for this, as older bread will make for sturdier croutons. However, it's not totally necessary. We used some homemade bread that we made fresh. Just let it cool for a while before you attempt to cut it up into cubes.
For the croutons
5-6 cups of bread, cubed
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
half a cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
Just toss all of these ingredients together to coat well & bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, turning once or twice. Set aside to cool.
For the salad
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 can of chick peas
1 small bunch of asparagus (boil for 3 minutes & rinse with very cold water & then cut into inch and a half sections)
1 can/jar of artichoke hearts in water
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup crumbled feta
For the dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
juice from half a lemon
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Ideally, this would be served with a nice, big glass of valpolicella.