Bursting with peak summer tomatoes and perfumed with fresh basil, panzanella is one of our favorite summer salads here at the bakery. It also happens to be a great way to use up a hunk of sourdough that’s just a couple days past it’s prime (though, once you’ve tried it, you’ll find this salad is definitely worth picking up a fresh loaf for). Best of all, it only gets better as it sits, making it your new go-to for picnics and grill outs ’til tomato season’s over.
1/2 loaf Journeyman Pain au Lavain or Parmesan/Asiago bread (about 12 oz.), cut into 1 1/2” cubes
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, assorted colors and sizes
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 small Fresno chile or red jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped; or sub large pinch red pepper flake (optional)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar (or red wine vinegar or additional lemon juice)
3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste
4 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup small to medium fresh basil leaves, reserving some for garnish
1/4 cup parsley roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slice tomatoes into large wedges and place in a colander set over a bowl. Liberally season with kosher salt and toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature, tossing occasionally (we learned this genius technique from J. Kenji López-Alt; it draws out some of the tomato juices which we then add to our vinaigarette).
Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are crisped and just beginning to go golden at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
Remove colander with tomatoes and set aside (on a board or in your sink as they’ll continue to release some juices). To the tomato juices, add the shallot, chile (if using), lemon zest and juice, Sherry vinegar, garlic, and anchovy, if using. Slowly whisk in the remaining oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the reserved tomatoes, bread, basil leaves, and parsley in a large serving bowl. Pour over vinaigrette and toss to coat. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, so that the dressing is fully absorbed by the bread.
Finally, just before serving, toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar and salt if needed. Garnish with torn basil and enjoy.