A panzanella is a traditional Florentine dish made with stale bread and juicy tomatoes. The toasty bread soaks up the flavors of its pairing. We have opted for tasty artichokes. Panzanella can be enjoyed on its own or as a side or starter salad. Several ingredients are used multiple times throughout this recipe – we have broken up each amount needed for each step. Serves 4 - 6 as a side dish.
- 3-4 organic artichokes
- 1 loaf rustic and hearty Crumb Brothers bread, preferably one or two days old
- 1 cup green or mixed olives of your choice, pitted
- 4 oz. Pasamontes Manchego cheese (12- 18 months aged sheep's milk cheese from Spain)
- 2 large handfuls organic arugula
- 4 organic lemons
- 2 organic garlic cloves, unpeeled + 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 - 3 sprigs fresh organic thyme
- 1 organic bay leaf
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon+ ¼ cup + ½ cup LHF California extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup Banyuls blush wine or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Refosco Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Cardinal Mendoza sherry vinegar from Jerez de La Frontera, Spain
- Diamond kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Trim the crust from the bread and chop into rough cubes.
Cut the olive in halves or quarters.
Juice the lemons. Strain out any seeds. Divide the juice in half. Zest one lemon.
Smash two of the garlic cloves in their skin. Finely mince or grate the other garlic clove.
Prepare the artichokes: fill a large bowl with water and half of the fresh squeezed lemon juice. Reserve the whole squeezed lemons. After each cut of the artichoke, rub the newly cut side with the lemon. After trimming each artichoke, reserve in the lemon water. This step helps prevent any discoloration.
Working one artichoke at a time, slice or pull off the tough dark green outer leaves. Remove the leaves until you are left with just pale green delicate inner leaves. Slice off the top ½ inch – 1 inch of these remaining leaves. Remember to rub each newly cut piece with the lemon after each trim.
Trim the stalk to about ½ - 1 inch long. Using a sharp knife, remove any dark green remnants at the base of the artichoke.
Cut the artichoke in half, and scoop out the fuzzy inedible choke (use a grapefruit spoon if you have one)
Any purple or red leaves in the center should be scraped out and discarded. The trimmed artichoke should somewhat resemble a mini Statue of Liberty torch.
Cut the artichoke heart into bite sized pieces, and store in the lemon water.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook the artichokes: Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in 3 cups water, ¼ cup olive oil, ½ cup wine vinegar, the remaining lemon juice, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh thyme, bay leaf, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in the chopped artichokes. Loosely cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered until the artichokes are softened, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes from the cooking liquid, discarding also the whole garlic cloves and thyme.
Toss the artichokes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the minced garlic clove, the lemon zest, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the Salad: In a large bowl, toss the cubed bread with ¼ cup olive oil to coat and soak into each piece. Use more olive oil if needed. Liberally add salt and pepper.
Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until golden brown and crispy, about 8 – 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, briskly whisk the red wine and sherry vinegars. Mix in ½ cup of olive oil and blend well.
In a large serving bowl, toss the artichoke hearts, the toasted bread, and the olives with the vinaigrette. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Toss in the arugula, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve each plate garnished with copious shavings of Manchego cheese.