Summer is officially here and I am here for it!! I am thinking of lazy BBQs in the afternoon sun, drinking loads of lemonade (such as my Summer Day Lemonade), and spending time picnicking, preferably with water nearby 😍. For all of those occasions, today’s Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) is absolutely perfect!
This gem has been on a long list of mine to develop a recipe for and I am so glad I finally got around to it. What is a Panzanella you might be asking? It is basically an Italian-style bread salad that has been around since the 16th hundred. It is made with stale bread (that is soaked in a bit of water and then dried), tomatoes, onions, and then depending on which recipe you follow it adds cucumber, herbs, olives, capers, peppers – you name it. Basically, it becomes a bit of a “freestyle” after the bread, onions, and tomatoes 🤣. The rather sweet or non-distinct flavors are then dressed up with olive oil and vinegar. In my version, we are also adding garlic and mustard for an additional kick.
And yet again, I kept these pictures super simple because I truly wanted the colors to shine 🤩! Look at the red, yellow, and green – I could die in happiness about it! Originally, I wanted to shoot this one outside, because the weather is truly beautiful at the moment, but as luck would have it, I only had a small window to shoot and it was the middle of the day, which, in the summertime, is basically the worst kind of lighting you can have for food photography (possibly any photography if I am honest – the light is simply far too harsh/bright). So back to the basement it was. I am crossing my fingers for next week’s post 😉.
Why is this Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) good for you?
I recently published a recipe for an Easy, Simple Summer Salad. In this I discuss the benefits of tomatoes and onions, so please head on over there if you would like to learn more!
Sweet, delicious (bell) peppers. Peppers belong to the nightshade family and are an excellent and exceptionally high source of Vitamin C. In fact, they contain a lot more vitamin C than orange juice (something that the marketing industry likes to keep quiet 😉). Peppers are also exceptionally high in antioxidants, especially the flavonoid and carotenoid variety. As you hear me say on the blog time and time again, antioxidants are so, so important for our health. In fact, I have written an entire blog post about the Science behind Antioxidants if you want to learn more.
They basically help to reduce oxidative stress, which, in turn, reduces our potential for Western disease (e.g. cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s, and obesity). The high carotenoid content also makes peppers an excellent contender for your eye health, and may protect you from age-related macular degeneration (= basically a loss in vision or your sight becoming blurry). By the way – and I am mentioning this because I only learned this last year when starting to grow peppers myself… Ever wondered how the green, red, and orange variety come about? Peppers all start out green and then the ripening process first turns them red, and then orange. That is also the reason why the green variety oftentimes tastes a bit more “tart”. It simply did not spend as much time in the sun.
Olives are technically a fruit and usually harvested in September. They tend to be available year-round though. Olives are usually too bitter to be eaten directly from a tree and therefore need to be curated first. Similar to peppers, olives start out green and then turn black when ripe. However, there are also some varieties that stay green and/or are black straight away. Olives are very high in fat, most of which is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Diets high in monounsaturated fats have been shown to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Mainly by lowering overall blood cholesterol levels, “bad” cholesterol levels, as well as our ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol levels. In relation to cardiovascular health, olives have been researched to lower blood levels of a C-reactive protein, which is a common indicator for inflammation.
Basil is related to peppermint and a herb that is, in particular, known from the Italian cuisine. It is not only delicious but also provides a ton of flavor! Basil (as all green vegetables and herbs) is exceptionally high in vitamin K1. Vitamin K1, amongst other things, is super important for our blood to clot properly. Basil has antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits. The flavonoids found in Basil appear to protect the cell structure of white blood cells and our chromosomes from oxidative damage or radiation. The volatile oils in Basil make up most of their anti-bacterial benefits and have been shown to inhibit the growth of different strands of bacteria in lab settings.
How can I adjust this Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) to my dietary requirements?
This Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) is nut-free, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free (be sure to use gluten-free bread). You could easily make this salad paleo by using paleo-approved bread.
And there you have it for this week! A beautiful, delicious salad that lends itself well to whatever adventures you are off to this summer 🌸. If you need more salad inspiration, why not try my Watermelon Feta Salad and/or my Italian Anti-Pasti Salad. They are also both absolute winners in the salad-department area!! As always, please let me know how you are liking the recipe below by leaving a comment and/or rating the recipe! Happy Tuscan-Style Salad eating everyone 😉😋.