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Chef John's Panzanella

"The key to this panzanella is frying the bread cubes in loads of olive oil in a skillet, which obviously makes them crispy. But the healthful fat also soaks into the bread cubes and renders them semi-waterproof, or dressing-proof. The same goes for the dusting of Parmesan cheese applied halfway through the crisping process."

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups 1/2-inch stale bread cubes, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste
  • 1 pinch white sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced, or more to taste

Instructions :

Prep : 10M Cook : 2M Ready in : 1H
  • Pour bread into a large skillet and drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, working in batches if necessary. Cook and stir bread over medium heat, adding more oil as needed, until bread cubes are golden and crispy on the outside, 7 to 12 minutes.
  • Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top of the bread cubes; cook and stir until cheese is melted onto bread, and bread is crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside, 3 to 4 minutes more. Cool completely.
  • Combine tomatoes, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sugar, salt, and black pepper together in a bowl until well-mixed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until flavors combine, about 20 minutes.
  • Toss basil into tomato mixture; add bread cubes and stir. Let salad sit at room temperature 3 to 4 minutes; if the liquid is completely absorbed, add more vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste. Season with salt and black pepper.

Notes :

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