This classic Italian summer salad goes terrifically well with a meaty slab of grilled tuna.
It was exceedingly popular at my restaurants and a great way to use up our stale bread. Quality ingredients, simply prepared is always a key to culinary success. I used the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes to add a little zing to the plate. Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grilled Tuna with Panzanella Salad
4 fresh tuna steaks, 1-inch thick
4 ounces rustic bread, thick cut, very stale
1 medium sweet onion, peeled, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar, split
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, split
6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
3 large, ripe local tomatoes, large dice
1 small English cucumber, peeled, large dice
¼ cup Niçoise olives, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
4 tablespoons sundried tomato oil (optional)
Soak the stale bread in ice water with a teaspoon of the red wine vinegar for a few minutes until it becomes soft. Squeeze out the water with your hands and set it aside. Add the onions to the ice water with another teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Let the onions stand for an hour to soften.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: add the remaining red wine vinegar to a large bowl and add the garlic and half the salt. Whisk to combine, then whisk in the olive oil and set it aside.
Toss the cucumber chunks in the remaining salt and drain them in a fine mesh strainer for 20 minutes or so. Add the chopped tomatoes to the bowl with the dressing. Drain the onions and toss them in along with the cucumbers, Niçoise olives and capers. Tear the bread into large chunks and toss it with the vegetable salad and mix until well combined. Let this sit for 20 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Meanwhile, pre-heat your grill to medium hot and oil it well. Grill the tuna steaks to your desired doneness (4 minutes for medium). Mix the basil chiffonade into the salad and taste for salt.
Divide the Panzanella between 4 attractive plates and top with a tuna steak. Drizzle on the sundried tomato oil and serve.