Italian Recipes – Putting the Salad Together for Panzanella

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,690
    Culinary and Lifestyle Specialist Lisa Mushaw demonstrates how to put the salad together for Panzanella

    Lisa Mushaw

    A new generation doyenne on the rise who is staking her claim in the lofty arenas of international travel, tourism and the culinary arts, Lisa Mushaw is making transatlantic waves with TREASURES OF TUSCANY – AN EPICUREAN VOYAGE. TREASURES launched in November 2002 as a one-week vacation abroad with a twist – a cooking program where participants are given extensive exposure to Italian cuisine while discovering the physical beauty and traditions that are uniquely Tuscan. The idea was to offer “foodies” an opportunity to share and celebrate the cultural, personal and convivial rites that are the Tuscan Table, while basking in the charm of one of the world’s most exquisite and historic treasures. Lisa is a “natural taster” who cut her culinary teeth in the kitchen of relatives who excelled in the preparation of Creole cuisine. As a child, long before she knew the difference between battuto and affogato, she demonstrated a natural talent for discerning which ingredients were missing or used in excess in recipes. Her culinary gifts are no accident as her family roots include small business owners who made their living as caterers in New Orleans. A fervent student of food and wine, Lisa’s most recent accomplishment was completing a three year sommelier program. TREASURES OF TUSCANY – AN EPICUREAN VOYAGE is ideal for those with a passion for continental adventure who want to escape the drama of daily life and be transformed by a week in Florence – the center of the Renaissance, the Etruscan city of San Gimingnano or the medieval town of Lucca, creating memories that will last for years on end. Those who bask in attention to detail, pampering and personal service will want to join Lisa for the this extraordinary excursion to Toscana, the Italian province rich in beauty and character and the birthplace of much great Italian art, cuisine, and history.

    Lisa Mushaw: Hi! I am Lisa Mushaw, owner of Treasures of Tuscany An Epicurean Voyage. Today, we are preparing Panzanella. Panzanella is tomato and bread salad.

    Right now, we are going to go ahead and assemble the Panzanella for you.

    One of the things that I want to talk about is prior to assembling it as you can see weve gone ahead and chopped the tomatoes, and I have used a couple of different variety of tomatoes just to add some color to it. Because the tomatoes along with the bread that has been soaking in water neither one of them have salt on it. Its important that you dont want to over-salt it because you need to layer of salt during the process. So, again weve chopped the tomatoes, I have done nothing else and now I am going to go ahead and put some salt on the tomatoes. You dont want to over-salt it like I said because everybody has different salt tolerances, but if you dont put any salt on it this is going to also taste a bit flat. So then you just going to mix in the salt, and it doesnt matter about the order of adding in the rest of the ingredients that just use your discretion.

    Now I am going to go ahead and add in the chopped red onions, and again, I am going to mix that in a bit, and if you have aversion of getting your hands messy I dont know what to tell you because this is really the best way to stir this particular dish up.

    Then we are going to go ahead and put in the two cucumbers, and at this point now that Ive gotten all these ingredients in there I am going to go ahead and add just not too much, but just a little bit more salt. And see how the color is just bursting, it really is a wonderful salad. I wish that you could smell it. So, Ive added a little more salt, and then Ive got some basil here. Now, I am a basil fanatic, there is never enough basil in a salad for me, but, not everybody likes basil that much. So, you really need to use your discretion about a bunch of basil, this is more than a bunch, it would be enough, so you can say about a handful of and a half and you literally just going to tear the basil off of the stems and then tear it into the salad. Again because I like basil I dont tear it up too much I like the shape of it and so I just take it off the stems, and maybe cut tear at once and then toss it in the salad, like so. I always try to leave one or two flowers left on the basil to decorate the salad in the end, like so.

    Now, once weve finished putting the basil in, were going to go ahead and finish it off with the bread.

    As you recall we strained the bread earlier and this is what it looks like, and you literally just take the bread just like the other ingredients and you drizzle it across the salad, like so.

    Once weve done that were going to go ahead and add three-fourth cups of olive oil.

    Now, lets talk about olive oil for just a second. Because this is a fresh salad and not something that you are cooking, you do want to use a good quality olive oil for this recipe. So, thats three quarters cups olive oil followed by three teaspoons of red wine vinegar.

    When looking for olive oil, thats a good quality, you want to look at the date. All olive oil no matter where its made rather its in Tuscany or Spain or what have you is best within the first four months of its production. So really you are trying to get an olive oil that is within a year old to really nurture the ingredients in this recipe. So, now that I have all this stuff together I am going to add some pepper again to taste, and remember because you are using bread that again has been soaked in water and that was not salted. This actually is not going to be a lot of pepper because its going to be absorbed in the bread and then I am going to add some more salts, and then I am going to toss it one more time making sure all the ingredients are in here -- making sure all the ingredients are blended in. And it really, really does have a wonderful smell. The onions are really -- at first it sometimes seems like two onions is too much, but once you make it and once it chills youre going to realize that you needed those onions and you are going to look forward to biting into them because the freshness of them is just going to burst in your mouth.

    So now that we have finished with the panzanella were going to go ahead and let this chill in the refrigerator for about a half-an-hour. If you are going to serve this for a dinner party or having some people over for lunch you could make this early in the day and then just chill it until you are ready to serve.

    Were going to put some Saran wrap on this, put it in the refrigerator and let it chill and we will bring it out shortly.