Leftover bread panzanella
Photo by Tamara West
Bread is the most commonly wasted food in New Zealand homes — but what can you do with it once it’s old and stale? This lively panzanella brings bread back to life and makes it the star of the dish. Panzanella is an Italian salad traditionally made with really tough old bread that is soaked in water to soften it, then mixed with fresh ingredients like tomato and basil. In this version the bread is cut up and sprinkled with lemon juice and olive oil to add moisture, then baked until crunchy on the edges and caramelised. When you cut the bread, pay close attention to the shape. If you make it into little pointy triangles you’ll enjoy the variety of textures that result — a thin crispy end and a thicker chewy end. Adding leftover cooked chicken and a little bit of capsicum makes this a tasty, satisfying lunch or light dinner. The pine nuts are optional, they’re sweet and rich but the price can be off-putting. You could replace them with crushed roasted almonds. In the spirit of using up leftovers, personally I don’t let a wee spot of mould on the bread put me off — once it’s been well heated in the oven I just think of it as extra flavour!
- Heat oven to 180C fan-forced. Cut bread into small triangular bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice, then add lemon zest, salt and pepper. Toss to mix then spread on an oven tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until crispy and browned on the edges.
- Tip crunchy bread back into a bowl, then add the tomatoes and squish around by hand to combine. This allows the juice of the tomato to coat the bread with extra flavour and is a key step to making this salad delicious.
- Add capsicum, chicken, basil and pine nuts then mix again. Sprinkle with extra lemon juice before serving.