Making this salad should have had me seriously craving produce at its summertime peak—especially juicy tomatoes, which are the main event in panzanella, an Italian bread salad. This recipe is kind of a riff on panzanella, yet it was so hearty and delicious that I didn't miss the tomatoes at all. Chunks of ciabatta bread, crisped with sliced garlic in olive oil under paper-thin slices of speck ham, are the bulk of the salad, tucked into a pile of arugula dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and shaved pieces of Parmesan.
A poached egg rests on top of it all, just because, making this salad somewhat like frisee aux lardons. When I first wrote about that recipe I asked quite earnestly how one could not like a dish that has bacon and egg and is still actually called a salad. The question still applies.
Though I used speck ham, the original recipe from Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef called for pancetta. Any form of cured pork will do just fine.
- 10 to 15 pieces torn ciabatta or other crusty white bread
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 10 slices speck, prosciutto, or pancetta, torn or cut into pieces
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces baby arugula
- 3 ounces Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In an ovenproof dish toss the bread pieces, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake until the bread begins to get crispy; about ten minutes. Lay the slices of speck across the bread pieces and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a saucepan of water to boil for poaching the eggs. Whisk the lemon juice, remaining olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a salad bowl to make a dressing. Shave the Parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler into thin shavings.
Poach the eggs in simmering water for 4 minutes, or until the whites are completely set and the yolk is still soft. Toss the arugula with the bread, speck, and dressing. Serve with the shaved Parmesan and poached eggs. Serve immediately.