Italian Bread Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

It’s a classic and beloved Italian dish – panzanella – and once you try it, you’ll know why. Croutons soaked in extra-virgin olive oil and diced summer tomatoes. What more could you ask for? How about some bacon?! I like to add crispy prosciutto to my salad. It adds some texture and, of course, lots of flavor. Either way, this is the perfect salad for the summer. I mean, who’s to argue with the Italians? Capisce?!

 

Italian Bread Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

 

Italian Bread Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

Yield: 2 servings


1 1/2 cups large hand torn croutons from Sourdough bread (crusts removed)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 slices prosciutto, torn into medium pieces

2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, diced small (3 tablespoons)

ΒΌ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1 large tomato, diced medium, seeds removed and reserved

1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced on a bias

1/4 cup green olives, pits discarded and chopped roughly, optional

8 medium basil leaves, hand torn

 

Place an oven rack on the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, toss to combine the hand torn croutons with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Spread the croutons and prosciutto pieces on a parchment lined sheet tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the croutons are toasted, but still soft in the middle and the prosciutto is crispy. (You may have to take out the croutons before the prosciutto.)

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, add the vinegars, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the tomato seeds. Close the lid and shake vigorously until well combined.

Place diced shallots and oregano in a small bowl. Using a tea strainer, strain the vinaigrette over the shallots so the tomato seeds do not combine with the shallots. Discard the tomato seeds.

In a large bowl, gently fold to combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives (if using), basil, croutons and the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide onto plates, drizzle each plate with olive oil and top with some of the crispy prosciutto pieces.

P.S. The quality of olive oil is always important, but especially in a salad where you can really taste its flavor. I’m partial to my favorite brand, Lucini Italia. Their olive oil is perfectly balanced and their vinegars are excellent as well. It can be found at most grocery stores or you can buy it online – in bulk!

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Monster Shallot – The Ripley’s of Shallots

I am still marveling at all of the beautiful produce that was on display at the National Heirloom Expo last week.

It was quite eye-opening and I just have to share with you all about an amazing shallot that I now have in my possession thanks to my new pal Christian of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Company. It’s so beautiful, it’s going to be hard to slice into it. Just for fun, Super-sous and I laid it out amongst other shallots and an onion to do a little comparison.

The results are in! From left to right.

  • The Monster Shallot coming in at 14 ounces, 7 inches long and 3 & 1/2 inches wide. (Holy Latte.)
  • Next up, a typical red onion you would find at a grocery store or farmers market, weighing 7 ounces.
  • Followed by, a typical shallot you would find at a farmers market in California (previously thought of as huge until Monster Shallot came onto the scene). The California farmers market shallot weighs 3 ounces.
  • And then, a typical shallot you would find at a grocery store across the country – weighing 1 ounce.

Not that size matters… but Monster Shallot is a pretty cool cat and will soon be deliciously prepared in a multitude of ways (since it’s basically about 14 shallots worth in one).

Oh, and did I mention? You can probably procure the seeds for this shallot (or something like it) through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Company.

And now… let’s eat!