Some people say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Don't reinvent a classic. It's a classic because it's perfect as is. Which, is true. But even though this panzanella is something of a reinvented Salade Niçoise or Pan Bagnat, I'm not reinventing it to improve it, but to find more ways to eat it because I love it.
Salade Niçoise is iconic, as is the Pan Bagnat which is just a Salade Niçoise sandwich. This is somewhere in the middle: a bread salad full of all the flavors that make a Salade Niçoise a Salade Niçoise: cherry tomatoes, tender blanched haricots verts, anchovies, garlic, lemon, olive oil, thyme, basil, and the best part, albacore in olive oil. All tossed with toasted, crusted cubes of bread that soak up all the flavor and make it a meal. It's salty, fresh, crisp, and bright.
So like I said, this is just one more way to eat your Salade Niçoise, and who doesn't want that?
- 6 cups day-old bread, cut in 1-inch cubes
- The juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 7 ounces haricots verts, halved and blanched until tender crisp
- 45 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 30 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 cup baby arugula, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 5-ounce can of albacore in olive oil, drained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast until just golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together the haricots verts, cherry tomatoes, olives, anchovies, arugula, basil, parsley, and the lemon-thyme vinaigrette. Then, add the tuna and bread croutons to the bowl, and gently toss until everything is combined. Let sit on the counter for at least 20 minutes before serving.