As mentioned in my post about Chicken Valdostana, the class also made Panzanella that evening. This is a Tuscan bread salad. I had never thought of a salad without lettuce. Chef Tim Belarde is a fantastic cook. I recreated this dish for a dinner with friends. I was a little nervous but all tasters said that it came out very nice.
1 loaf fresh sourdough bread
2 bunches fresh basil
4 Roma tomatoes
1 medium red onion
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Cube bread into 1" pieces and lay out on a sheet pan. Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over cubes, season with salt and pepper. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Outside should be toasted. Set aside to cool.
Dice tomatoes in 1/2" pieces, coarsely chop basil, and sliver slice the red onion.
Add all ingredients in a large salad bowl, season to taste, toss and serve.
As I write this, I can taste the panzanella. The ingredients make a perfect party in your mouth. The trick is the bread. If you bake it too long, it's tough like croutons; if not long enough, the bread cubes get soggy quickly. It's the perfect "salad" compliment to a meal.