When Robin made this salad for niece Annie, Annie dug into it and said “Aunt Robin…this is the best salad I’ve ever had!” Although it is a traditional Italian Panzanella salad, we call it Annie’s Salad when we make it for her.
I don’t know if this will be the best salad you’ve ever had but I can promise it will be different. What’s more, this recipe makes a bunch of salad so it’s a good dish to bring to potlucks and other large gatherings.
We enjoy it as an entire meal, lunch or dinner! You can use any French bread (baguette, sour dough, whole wheat, etc.) but I like the texture and flavor of Ciabatta. In America, Ciabatta is often made with a sour dough starter (“biga” in Italy). It is the bread of choice for Panini sandwiches, which may be another reason I like it so much. Whichever bread you use, be sure to use one with a firm crust.
Ingredients: Loaf of Ciabatta bread (cut into 1-inch cubes) Olive oil cooking spray 4 cloves garlic (sliced thinly) 6 tablespoons olive oil 9 large ripe Roma tomatoes 1/3 cup Kalamata olives (chopped) 1/3 cup green bell pepper (chopped) 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (chopped) 1/3 cup red onion (chopped) 1 tablespoon capers (drained) 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar Asiago cheese (shaved)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lightly spray Ciabatta cubes with cooking spray and bake, turning each cube once or twice, until brown – approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
Trim the top off the tomatoes and then, using a sharp paring knife, cut tomatoes into quarters. Scoop out the core and seeds of each tomato slice and set tomatoes aside.
Using a large bowl, combine tomatoes with the olives, bell pepper, basil, onion and capers. Add garlic to this mixture along with red wine vinegar. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill. At this time, place 6 salad pates in the refrigerator to chill as well.
Just prior to serving, toss bread mixture with tomato mixture. Divide salad among the chilled plates and garnish with a shaving of Asiago cheese.