Winter Panzanella Instead Of Stuffing

panzanella1

 

We love Panzanella, the classic Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes, capers, olives and fresh basil, and even though it’s largely considered a summer dish, it’s exciting to know that there are winter versions that rival their summer cousin.

Originally panzanella was developed as a good way to use up stale bread. Panzanella has always been one of our favourite side dishes, but, like Caprese salad, it is largely a seasonal thing, best when the fruit is in season and ripe and bursting off the vine. Sure you could make it in the winter with greenhouse tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes, or the sad fruit described in Tomatoland, but it’s kind of like having strawberry shortcake in January.

That being said, there are winter versions of panzanella that have their own fantastic qualities, and you can still get your fix of toothsome country-style bread zesty vinaigrette et al all tossed with a few familiar ingredients and a few surprises too. Cauliflower florets, for example are a nice addition, or grilled halloumi with maybe some chopped beets or zucchini. Other additions could include red onion, currants, tuna or anchovy, and other salad staples like lettuce or cucumbers or even slices of boiled egg but you will want to show a little restraint and keep the spirit of the original Tuscan dish.

 

tear me apart and give me a little toasting

tear me apart and give me a little toasting

 

The main thing is to keep it simple and use good ingredients; if your day-old ciabatta isn’t quite stale enough, drizzle a little of your best olive oil on it and give a few minutes in the oven to toast it a bit before tearing it into small chunks. Try experimenting with a few ingredients and see what works best for you. Cubes of roasted butternut squash? Why not? How bout Brussels sprouts and a little sage? Here is a good, simple recipe to get you going. And who knows? With the holidays coming up, you might decide to replace your usual turkey stuffing with your version of a winter panzanella and start a whole new tradition!

 

panzanella

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