Panzenella and Billy Bread – Richmond, Virginia
Billy Bread can be found in the bread baskets of Lemaire and other restaurants in the city of Richmond. He is also working on some larger distribution plans. He makes just this one bread, except he will bake Foccacia, which is a special request of Chef Bundy.
The delightful hot loaf of Billy Bread that we enjoyed On the Road to Pennsylvania would have made a great Panzenella. However, there were no leftovers and I wasn’t cooking on that trip!
If you find yourself in Richmond, be sure to track down a loaf or two of Billy Bread. You will be glad you did. 🙂
If you are lucky enough to snag a loaf of Billy Bread or other great Artisinal bread, Panzenella is the perfect salad to make with that bread, especially since tomatoes are at their best right now.
I did purchase an organic loaf of Paesano Hearth Bread to make my salad. It was good, but not as tasty as Billy Bread. However, it was a good substitute for this salad. Panzenella is best when made with the summer’s ripest Heirloom tomatoes. I chose some smaller Heirloom Red Zebras (because they looked the best) and a local cucumber for my salad. I would suggest that you use large Heirloom tomatoes that are juicy. The Red Zebras were almost too small and meaty. Be sure to use a fragrant and fruity olive oil.
The flavors of this salad are delightful together. The bread is perfectly dressed and still a bit firm. Be sure to add additional cucumber and basil to your personal taste.
This is the perfect summertime salad!
Panzenella (Bread Salad)
The success of this recipe depends on ripe, in-season tomatoes and a fruity, high-quality olive oil.
6 cups rustic Italian or French bread , cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (1/2 to 1 pound)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Use a really nice fruity olive oil)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (Use Heirloom, if possible)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin (Or more, to taste)
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (Or more, to taste)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread pieces with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; arrange bread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Toast bread pieces until just starting to turn light golden, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Gently toss tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Transfer to colander and set over bowl; set aside to drain for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Whisk remaining 6 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into reserved tomato juices. Add bread pieces, toss to coat, and let stand for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Add tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, and basil to bowl with bread pieces and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Cooks Illustrated