Panzanella Salad For When You’re Just Too Tired To Cook

Sometimes I curl up, stare outside, and reflect on happy memories. I smile to myself and end up in a fit of giggles. This salad reminds me of a funny story I’ll share with you. Right next to my house is a very large park. It’s actually the largest park in the county so lots of people, locals and travelers alike, come to see it. In the center of several acres is a large duck pond. Not only do we have easily 100 ducks to feed, but we also have 20-30 geese. Not Canadian geese, which are usually shy and mild-mannered. But all-white with an orange beak, loud, honking, and really fat geese. These geese probably weigh a good 15-20 pounds from all the bread they get daily. (They are very spoiled). In fact, they are so spoiled that they will come up to you and eat right out of your hand!

Now sometimes the geese are in a good mood. They honk, stretching out their wings as they basically charge you for scraps of bread and then stop right at your feet. They’ll look at you with their beady eyes and basically say, “Hey, don’t mind all these other little guys. Just feed me right here!”. It makes me chuckle. With such quirky personalities my family and I often go down to the dollar store and stock up on loaves of cheap bread to feed them.

So one day we had just arrived at the park to feed the ducks and geese. It was around lunchtime so the park was fairly busy. As we walked over the hill and looked down around the perimeter of the water I noticed a woman sitting on a bench at the opposite end of the pond. She was dressed in a beautiful pant suit and had a small tin on her lap. Obviously she was taking a break from work and wanted to eat her lunch outside. (Clearly she didn’t frequent this park, because if she did she would’ve known what was about to happen next). As she opened the clear, plastic sandwich tin a large goose walked up honking at her. I stood there watching the exchange with piqued interest. The woman looked at the goose before looking back down at her food. The goose honked again and strutted a tiny bit closer. The woman blinked and looked up, shocked, that the goose had come so close. She shifted slightly away from the goose and lifted the sandwich to her mouth. Just then the goose hopped up on the bench right next to her and honked at her! The woman tried batting the goose away with her sandwich. Like a magnet to a fridge, that sandwich was in his mouth in 2 seconds flat. “That damn duck!” she said, storming off to her car. I’m sorry… I had to giggle. Goose: 1 Humans: 0 . Nature can be pretty impressive.

Much like the “goose on a mission”, this Italian Panzanella Salad is the little salad that could. I’m not a big salad eater, but I could eat this for days! Just grab whatever scraps of bread you have lying around and cut them up into cubes to go slightly stale and you’re ready to go! I even got my kiddo to enjoy this salad, so you know it’s good! Enjoy this recipe everyone and keep cooking! 🙂

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

Italian Panzanella Salad

Courtesy of: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (2 day old) country style bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes (about 8 cups)
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes at room temperature, cored, seeded, and cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, shredded, plus a few for garnish
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Toss the bread, tomatoes, onion, and shredded basil leaves in a large bowl until well mixed.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and toss to mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  3. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil and enjoy!

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