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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


My boss served a wonderful Panzanella at a party several years ago, and I've always wanted to make it. She roughly followed a recipe she saw Giada De Laurentiis make, so I did the same. Giada's recipes are always great! I made this for a family dinner back in March, and it was a huge hit! Everyone LOVED it! We had it with grilled chicken, basil orzo, and grilled asparagus. It was such a delicious dinner and a great way to welcome spring!

Giada's recipe calls for kalamata olives and roasted red bell peppers, both of which I love, but I had to omit due to other family members' pickiness :) I also added some red onion because I thought it sounded good. See the original recipe linked below if the olives and peppers appeal to you!


1/4 cup drained capers
2 Tablespoons plus 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
12 ounces dense crusty bread
2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, scored on the bottom
2 Tablespoons plus 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (or basil puree to taste)
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

1. Soak the capers in 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a small bowl for 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Cut the bottom crust off of the bread if it's tough. Cut bread into 2-inch slices, evenly brush the slices with 2 tablespoons olive oil, distributing the oil among the slices and on both sides. Grill both sides of the bread in a grill pan until golden. Transfer bread to plate to cool briefly. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

3. Submerge the tomatoes into a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water to cool slightly. Using a small sharp paring knife, peel off the tomato skins. If you have difficulty, place the tomato back in the boiling water briefly, then into ice water, and try again. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk 2/3 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the bread cubes, tomatoes, basil, capers, and red onion; toss to combine.

5. Cover the salad and let stand at room temperature for flavors to blend, at least 1 hour if possible.

Source: Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Giada fan - just thought this was funny!

In case you're looking for an easy dinner idea, we thought the combination of the Panzanella, orzo, chicken, and asparagus was great. For super easy grilled chicken, marinate chicken breasts in fat-free or light Italian dressing for 8 hours in the fridge, then grill. (An article in Cook's Illustrated that I read recently does not recommend marinating in Italian dressing, but we like it!) You can brush on the extra marinade after boiling it for several minutes so it's safe to eat. One of my favorite ways to make asparagus is to lightly coat a grill pan in olive oil, place the cleaned spears in the pan, season with salt and pepper, then grill over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until asparagus has reached desired doneness.


  1. I tried Panzanella for the first time last summer and We all loved it! I used the Barefoot Contessas recipe, with some alterations of course. I am interested to see how Giadas recipe measures up. It looks delicious! Perfect for summer.

  2. LOL, I love that photo about Giada, that cracked me up. I love her recipes as well because they are easy to switch up and are not fussy. I love the addition of the onion. I will have to give it a try next time. The whole meal looks fantastic!

  3. Ok this is the perfect dinner in my book! Everything looks great...I love panzanella, made it for the first time last summer following an Ina Garten recipe. Seems similar, love Giada!!

  4. I've never had panzanella, but it looks incredible! I love that picture of Giada - lol!

  5. Looks good! I like Giada's recipes!

  6. That dinner looks quite delicious. Love Giada too!


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