Some of my favourite memories from my Italy holiday are, unsurprisingly, related to food. I still remember the lasagna I ate in a pretty trattoria outside the Vatican, the gelato I dropped when I crashed into a Vespa by the Trevi Fountain, and the pizza slice wrapped in newspaper that was equal parts grease and ambrosia. Let’s just say that Italian cusine and I have a special relationship.
Italian Cuisine 101: Panzanella
Italian cuisine brings up images of pizza, pasta and gelato. The more highbrow among us would think of tiramisu or bruschetta or focaccia bread. But the real Italian khaana is the food of the people. The humble panzanella was born under the Tuscan sun. A favourite with farmers and workmen, this simple, scrumptious salad is as easy to make as it is delicious. Want to try your hand an Italian cooking? Panzanella is where you start.
This delicious bread salad is super-quick (15 minutes) and easy to prepare, made with mouthwatering buttery crusty bread, and perfect for parties, picnics or Netflix binges!
- 1 small loaf bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (older, drier the better)
- 4 tbsp salted butter, melted
- 1 boiled chickpeas (kabuli channa),
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- half a small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Heat the pan.
- Spread the bread out and then drizzle it evenly with the melted butter and toss until all sides of the bread are evenly coated. Roast until the bread is crispy and golden. Remove and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients and the vinaigrette.
- Once the bread is ready, transfer it to a large serving bowl, along with the boiled chickpeas, thinly sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes or chopped regular tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, grated parmesan cheese and chopped crushed basil.
- Thoroughly mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Drizzle evenly on the salad and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmesan, if desired. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours to let the flavors seep in, stirring only once.