Salvatore Denaro makes a panzanella that's quite different from the typical summer bread salad served at other trattorias in Umbria. His zesty version includes southern Italian green olives, dried oregano and whole-grain barley rolls from Puglia called friselle. Any good, grainy, country-style loaf works nicely in this recipe; just make sure it's pane raffermo, what the Italians call bread that is "firmed up" and quite stale.
More Bread Salads
1 cup water
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 piece of stale, rustic whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 ounces)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup coarsely chopped green olives
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
In a large bowl, mix the water with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Swirl the bread cubes in the vinegar water, then drain the bread in a colander, gently squeezing out any excess moisture.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar. In a large bowl, stir the cherry tomatoes with the celery, olives, onion, basil, mint and oregano. Gently fold in the bread. Add the dressing and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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