Spicy Panzanella

Hello and Happy Thursday! Back in the spring, I was waxing eloquent about the ingenuity of French peasants, who created a fantastic dish out of onions, leftover wine, stale bread and some dried-out cheese — and called it French Onion Soup. Today, it’s Italy’s turn. You’re going to be treated to the culinary miracle that they whipped up with old bread and some vegetables. Read on!


Panzanella — making magic with vegetables and stale bread

You’ll find Spicy Panzanella on page 49 of the “Good and Cheap” PDF (a free download at leannebrown.com.) In the print copy, it’s on page 37.

Ingredient Notes
Spicy Panzanella is  made with:

  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • stale bread
  • olive oil
  • lime juice
  • jalapeno
  • salt and pepper

And for a change, I followed the instructions to the letter.

How Did It Taste?
I’ve made this at least three times, and I’ve served it to guests. It’s really good. What makes this recipe so great is the dressing. It would never have occurred to me to use sauteed jalapeno as the base for a salad dressing but it’s fabulous.

It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of bread you use. I’ve had good results with French bread and hamburger buns. There’s room for additional vegetables, too, and even possibly some fruits. I think that this would be great with radishes or olives added to the mix.

One hint — it doesn’t keep all that well. The next day, the bread still tastes good but the vegetables seemed to get kind of soggy. It’s easy to cut the recipe in half and still get solid results, so only make exactly what you need.

Time and Money
It took me about 25 minutes to put this together. The first time I made it (back in January), the cost was $1.39 per serving. This time, thanks to summer pricing on the vegetables, it was a bargain at $1.00 per serving.

And that’s it. Bravissimo, I say, to the genius of Italian cooks! I think that Spicy Panzanella is destined to become a regular on my dinner table.

Next up, we’ll be taking ramen noodles — longtime cheap food choice for starving artists — and making an exciting salad that works well as a main dish. See you then!signature

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