Berry Peach Panzanella

tuscany

When I lived in Florence my favorite place to take visitors, after the galleries “dell’arte,” was rural Tuscany where we’d visit olive groves, stone villas, renaissance churches, hilltops where we’d look out and marvel at the blue of the landscape that looks just the way Da Vinci painted it, and finally an old farm for lunch where a bright Panzanella was specially prepared.

Panzanella was not something that had made its way out of Tuscany at that time. It was such a classic farmer’s dish that it wasn’t even in the restaurants in Italy. The only place you’d find it was on the farm, making it more than delicious – it was a deeply personal, historical, cultural experience of a land I thought I’d never leave.

mint raspberries-web

peaches and greens-web

It suits my nature to make a dish that uses what we have, before looking for what we don’t, but while I loved it once, this salad is just about everything I don’t eat any more – bread, tomatoes, raw onions, raw garlic. These are foods Ayurveda calls rajasic, meaning agitating to mind and body. Indeed, many find them inflammatory.

So when I had some bread leftover last week after an evening of entertaining at my friend Marcia’s, I remembered Panzanella and thought I’d toss it with the rest of what was lying around and see if I could come up with a sattvic version of this salad.

berries and peaches panzanella-web

You can use any bread, including gluten-free like this one. Mint is essential, and I added oregano to keep it Italian. But you could replace that with thyme, or tarragon, or even rosemary – whatever you have on hand.  Be generous with the herbs. The flavor contrast with the fruit is enlivening.

Also, please use a good olive oil. Nothing too bitter, nor too bland. The fruit is delicate enough to need a truly refined oil.

You can make this up to 24 hours ahead. The longer you keep it before serving the more marinated and delicious it all becomes, but also a bit soggy. So, it’s a trade-off – presentation or taste? It’s good both ways really. You can’t go wrong.

berry panzanella

Berry & Peach Panzanella
Serves 2-4

Stale Bread, torn into bite size pieces to make about 1-2 cups
1 carton Raspberries
a generous handful of Blackberries
1 ripe Peach
4-5 leaves of Dandelion, torn into small strips
6-8 Mint leaves
a small handful of Cilantro, optional
an even smaller handful of fresh Oregano
1/2 small Orange, juiced
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 t Champagne Vinegar (or Red Wine Vinegar)
1 T extra virgin Olive Oil
pink Salt
fresh cracked black Pepper, optional
Arugula

In a medium-sized salad bowl, place your bread pieces. Rinse your berries, pat dry, and add to the bowl. Cut the peach into small pieces on a cutting board, saving the juices, and pour all of it into the salad. Gently stir in the dandelion, mint, optionally the cilantro, and half the oregano, then toss with the juices of orange and lemon, the vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, optionally a dash of black pepper.

Cover and allow to stand for at least half an hour before serving so the bread soaks up the juices. Refrigerate if it will stand any longer. Once you are ready to serve, lightly toss to see if the bread has absorbed enough of the juices. If the bread looks dry, carefully add a bit more orange juice (or lemon, vinegar or olive oil depending on your taste), adding just enough, and not too much or it will turn into a soggy mess.

Serve on a bed of arugula, and garnish with the remaining oregano. Alternatively, skip the arugula and enjoy it for breakfast or along with these heathy crepes for a holiday brunch.

berries and peaches panzanella-web

For original versions of Panzanella, Gourmet offers this authentic Italian version,  while the kitchn offers a very pretty, very American interpretation.

berry panzanella-covered-web

flowers-web

Orange tree

Oranges from Marcia’s Malibu garden

Happy Memorial Day weekend. In honor of the holiday and the opening of summer, I have a gift of what I call “sacred remembrance” for you. It’s a recording I did of some of my favorite verses from the Upanishads. Please leave a comment below by Monday night, and I will send it to you by email.

To all who serve and offer themselves to a greater cause, thank you. Namaste!

Yum

36 thoughts on “Berry Peach Panzanella

  1. sounds absolutely delicious and the pictures that accompany this recipe make me want to go to Tuscany and do nothing but eat!!

  2. My mint and herbs like rosemary,thyme and oregano are so beautiful in my garden since we’ve had unusual rains here in Texas. Im thrilled to have a recipe to use them.

  3. Longing for Italy, and especially beautiful Tuscany, after seeing your pictures. 🙂 The Panzanella sounds like a delightful summer dish…looking forward to trying it! Please send me your recordings of the Upanishads. Love to hear your sweet voice again. xoxox

  4. Whenever I read your words Laura I find a solution. In this latest offering there’s an idea for the many dandelions that I see sunning themselves in my garden. I actually like dandelions- their colour, the softly soft way they feel brushed under your the chin and the fun of blowing the seeds e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. You’ve given a beautiful saIad idea that includes dandelion leaves that are packed with vitamins. Genius!

  5. I woke up late this morning, opened my email and was greeted by the beautiful images and story here. What a perfect start to the day. Thank you for this gift of beauty. Happy Memorial Day weekend.

  6. I look forward to trying this yummy-looking salad. Please send me you recording. Thank you for all you share!

  7. Well, how can one go wrong when three of my favorite things come together in a sumptuous dish? In case you are wondering, the 3 things are You, peaches and bread…and of course all the garden herbs!

  8. Laura, I didn’t know you lived in Firenze!! I do love all Toscana, the rurl part is so wonderful! Bea is used to spent Easter holidays and few weeks of summer holidays at the seaside, in Forte dei Marmi. Your panzanella is so colored and looks delicious as weel.
    Happy Sunday

    • Manu, I was really thinking of you as I posted this yesterday. In fact, I was looking on your site for an original Panzanella. How about we all meet up in Florence for a week of cooking? And go to Forte dei Marmi for a day trip. I love it there too. Love to you and Bea.

      • Laura, we eat a lot of Panzanella in this period at home as it’s fresh and yummy, perfect fot the beginning of the summer! I don’t know why I’ve never posted a panazella recipe on my blog. Meeting you in Firenze would be really nice. If you’re going to come just let me know; organizing will be funny! Have a nice week

  9. Oh dear! I missed the Monday deadline! This panzanella is now on the Yoga Teacher Trainer retreat menu! Thank you for always providing ideas for freshness and living in alignment with good health! Love and summertime freshness to you and yours!

  10. Pingback: The Summer Six: Cool Foods for a Cool Summer | Food: A Love Story

  11. Just seeing this. I love your blog, Laura. I’m moving to Michigan this month and am going to have more time to cook. I’m excited to start making some of your delicious recipes. I’d love your recording of the Upsnishads if it is still available. Much love to you, Laura. So grateful for your wisdom.

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