As promised in my last recipe post, here I’ll provide you with the ingredients and instructions to prepare the gorgeous, flavourful salad called Panzanella.
This salad is an Italian staple dish, originally created by the poor inhabitants of Tuscany, who had to use all available ingredients to its utmost. The main ingredient, as the name suggests, is bread. In this case, not freshly baked bread, but slighty stale, old bread. Why use this? Because by using olive oil, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes, you’ll revive the bread which soaks up all the flavours you put in the salad. Therefore, there really is no need to use fresh bread, as it is so gratifying to see what happens to the stale bread just by adding some liquid ingredients.
Cannellini beans are white beans, which do not become mushy when cooking. They are related to kidney beans, and hold basically the same shape as their related bean. In this recipe I use beans from a can, which are already soaked in some juice and do not require anything more than a bit of heating to be eaten. However, if you happen to come across dry ones, be sure to soak them overnight before boiling them on a high heat for 10 minutes. After which you have to let them simmer for about 1 to 2 hours or until tender. This ensures that all the somewhat toxic characteristics in the beans are vanished.
Honestly, these are my favourite beans ever. They are so creamy and soft. I mostly use them in salads at the moment, but they are perfectly suitable alongside meat or even fish recipes. Besides that, they are also of Tuscan origin which means they are made to be in the Panzanella. You can also find them in the famous soup Minestrone.
If you happen to not have fresh basil, you could always substitute it with dried basil. Although, the taste would not be as fresco as it would otherwise be. Additionally, if you’d like you could also add tuna or anchovies, to make it a full dinner.
Although my recipe is probably not as you would find it in Italy nowadays, I used ingredients that I always have at hand. I strongly suggest you keep these ingredients in your own cupboards and refrigerators, as they are always able to create new delicious dishes.
- 250 grams (1 and 1/4 cup) of cannellini beans (I used them from a can, if you used dried ones, please see the explanation above)
- 1/4 of a leaf of old bread
- 1 shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- 350 grams (1 and 3/4 cup) of roma tomatoes
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) of sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh basil leaves (about 15 grams or 1/4 cup)
Used kitchen appliances
- Small pan
- Salad bowl
- Heat the beans in their liquid until it starts cooking. Turn off the heat, and drain. Set aside to cool.
- Tear the bread up in dices, and place them in the serving dish.
- Finely chop the shallot, garlic and both types of tomatoes. Add them, along with the beans, to the bread.
- Pour over the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over some shredded basil to taste – I used about 15 leaves.
- Mix everything together, and you’re ready to start eating!