Toasting hearty cubes of Italian bread helps them maintain their crunch in this classic Italian salad.
Panzanella Salad with White Beans and Arugula
SERVES 6 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Panzanella , Italy’s beloved bread salad, relies on the crusty, dry quality of stale bread to hold its own alongside juicy tomatoes. Rather than wait for our bread to turn stale, we baked bite-size cubes of hearty Italian bread until they took on a crisp, crunchy texture. As we chopped our tomatoes, we were careful to reserve the seeds and juice, knowing they would contribute intense tomato taste to the vinaigrette. Convenient canned cannellini beans, peppery arugula, and shaved Parmesan offered nice contrast to the bread and tomatoes. It’s essential to use high-quality rustic Italian bread for its crusty chew. Avoid sliced white sandwich bread or airy supermarket Italian bread—both will turn to mush once tossed with the dressing. The success of this recipe depends on ripe, in-season tomatoes. Do not discard the seeds or juice as you chop the tomatoes because they add important moisture and flavor to the salad.
12 ounces rustic Italian bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped, seeds and juice reserved
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
3 ounces (3 cups) baby arugula
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss bread pieces with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange bread in single layer in rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Whisk vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining ¼ cup oil. Add tomatoes with their seeds and juice, beans, onion, 1½ tablespoons basil, and 1 tablespoon oregano, toss to coat, and let sit for 20 minutes.
3. Add cooled croutons, arugula, remaining 1½ tablespoons basil, and remaining 1 tablespoon oregano and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer salad to serving platter and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve.