Serious Eats: Recipes

Panzanella with Artichokes, Black Olives, and Capers

[Photographs: Deborah Mele]

Notes: The key to this salad is to use very dry or stale Italian bread. If you do not have stale bread on hand, I find that cutting the bread into slices and leaving it out to dry overnight works well. For a more rustic look to your salad, you can tear the bread into small pieces, although cutting it into chunks works just fine for me. When completing the initial soaking of the bread, dip your bread in the water until it is completely wet through and then remove it and immediately squeeze it to remove most of the water. Do not leave the bread in the water too long or it will break apart and not hold up well in the salad.

I have a huge herb garden here in Umbria, and I add fresh herbs to almost all of my dishes for added flavor. Since I like my salads to be as colorful as possible, when making panzanella I almost always add fresh herbs such as parsley and/or basil, tiny wild arugula leaves, or celery leaves.

I like to use sweet onions and prefer full-flavored olives such as Gaeta, Kalamata, Bella di Cerignola, or Taggiasca olives. In a salad, pitted olives are always preferred. Salted capers do have a more intense flavor than those sold in jars packed in vinegar, but they do need to be soaked well first to ensure they are not too salty in the final product.

About the Author: Deborah Mele is the owner of Italian Food Forever, an Italian recipe blog, as well as Recipe Rebuild, a healthy recipe blog she shares with her daughter Christy, an RD. Deborah lives 6 months a year in Umbria, Italy where she oversees her guest house Il Casale di Mele.

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