There is always a good way to use up leftover bread in Tuscany and that, of course, I applaud. Or should I say aspire to. I toast to that good food conscience. Whatever. The point is: panzanella. It sounds like the sweet baby girl name that you would never choose for fear she would take it as permission to wear skin-tight tube skirts and ride on the backs of motorcycles with guys named Marco whenever she’d tell you she was going to the market and only call you by your first name. And you’d be like, great… eh, but what can you do? Panzanella can only be Panzanella.
Thankfully, in most cases panzanella is a dish, a bread salad dish. With leftover ingredients like broken bread pieces and chunky chopped vegetables smothered in olive oil, garlic, basil and perhaps anchovies.
Because of the implied earthiness of the (often stale) bread in the salad, I took the liberty of furthering that by grilling and then cooling the bread and many of the vegetables I used in this one — radicchio (I’m not even going to get into what kind of guy that name would be), zucchini and yellow summer squash. Then, because they’re so pretty and fresh and in season, I quartered some juicy red plums and tossed those along with my juicy red plum tomatoes. And that’s pretty much it. A lovely mess of red on one’s plate never did anyone any harm.
Plum & Radicchio Panzanella with Honey Mustard Dressing
(makes 6-8 servings)
1 small head of radicchio
5 plum tomatoes
4 red or black plums
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil
1 yellow squash
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
About half a baguette (can be leftover and stale)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 Tb red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper
Use a grill, if possible: Slice radicchio head in half and slick with olive oil, salt and pepper. Slice zucchini, yellow squash, and baguette into 1/2″ thick rounds and lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill everything until slightly charred and the bread is toasted, the vegetables still crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Let cool.
Coarsley shred radicchio. Core tomatoes and chop into quarters. Chop plums into quarters, removing pits. Tear basil leaves into coarse pieces. Tear bread into halves or rough pieces. To make the dressing, combine mustard, honey, vinegar and garlic with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir rapidly while drizzling in the olive oil to emulsify. Taste and adjust as desired. In a large bowl, toss everything together with the dressing and serve immediately, or let chill up to 4 hours before serving.
(for 6-8 servings)
1 head radicchio (at $3.99/lb): $2.00
5 plum tomatoes (at $1.99/lb): $2.50
4 red plums (at $1.99/lb): $1.75
1 cup basil leaves (from plant): $1.00
1 zucchini (at $1.79/lb): $0.50
1 yellow squash (at $1.89/lb): $0.70
1/4 cup chopped red onion (at $1.00/lb): $0.25
1/2 baguette: $1.00
1 clove garlic: $0.03
honey, mustard, vinegar: $0.25
1/4 cup olive oil: $0.35
salt, pepper: $0.03