Bread salads are the Italian specialty of thrifty housewives who use up extra bread and make it palatable for a second go around.
The most famous of these bread salads is the traditional Tuscan summer salad, panzanella. Today, with diets such as the Mediterranean diet becoming increasingly popular, bread salads could be making a comeback.
Beyond health reasons, however, bread salad is delicious on its own merit. It has a wonderful coarse texture and fresh flavor. You can use bread salad as an antipasto or a side dish.
Alternatively, serve with a generous piece of cheese as a simple supper.
Shepherds and others who had jobs that kept them away from home for extended periods carried coarse loaves of bread that became hard and stale. They would use the stale bread combined with bits of dry cheese and chips of hard sausage, some herbs and either wine or vinegar that they carried in a pouch. The shepherds then poured this stew-like porridge over stale bread pieces, softening them and making a savory and filling dish.
Bread Salad Recipes
BLT Panzanella with Warm Onion Vinaigrette
One thin loaf stale French bread
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
5 slices bacon
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
2 large tomatoes, cored and sliced into thin wedges
1 head romaine lettuce
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice bread on diagonal into 12 (3/4-inch thick) slices. Place on baking sheet and toast in oven at 400 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush each one lightly with olive oil and set aside. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp, pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Drain bacon on paper towel.
In a mixing bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and basil. Set aside. Place tomatoes in separate salad bowl. Wash inner leaves of lettuce and dry well. Tear into pieces and add to bowl with tomatoes.
Heat two tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in pan with the bacon fat. Add onion and saute over medium heat, stirring one minute. Stir into vinegar mixture.
Pour dressing over tomatoes and lettuce and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, arrange three slices of toast on each plate, ends touching in center. Pile salad in center of the toasts. Crumble bacon and sprinkle over top of each salad. Serve at once. Recipe makes four servings.
Pita Bread Salad
This is the perfect salad to compliment Pita Bread!
1 medium head romaine lettuce, torn
3 small tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, sliced
One small onion cut into rings
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh mint, minced
Pita bread halves
Combine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, radishes & parsley in a salad bowl. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and mint. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately with warm pita halves.