Panzanella with Cannellini Beans

Looking for a no-cook summer supper idea? How about one that uses up almost-overripe tomatoes and stale bread? Panzanella is an Italian summer salad that is best made with the ripest summer tomatoes you can find — and the perfect way to use those tomatoes sitting on your kitchen counter.

Panzanella can be served as a side dish or the main course — because I was serving this for Meatless Monday, I added cannellini (or white kidney) beans to boost the protein content. A good quality cheese — parmigiano reggiano or my personal favorite, a sharp pecorino — is a great finishing touch. Because I use canned beans to save time (see note below), I like to cook them with a little garlic first to add flavor. You can omit that step if you prefer, or if you’re more organized than I and cook dried beans ahead of time.

Recipe: Panzanella with Cannellini Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf day-old Italian bread
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans*
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large, very ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • parmigiano or pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tablespoon for the beans)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper

* I use Eden brand organic, BPA-free canned beans

Instructions: Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low. Cook garlic for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Rinse and drain the canned beans, then add them to the pan, stirring to combine with the garlic. Cook on low for 5 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, pour the bread cubes, cooked beans, tomatoes and basil. Separately, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a vinaigrette. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to combine. Let the salad sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes to let the flavors meld before eating. Just before serving, grate some cheese over top. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

Note: this recipe depends on juicy tomatoes to moisten the salad — if your salad seems dry, add additional olive oil and vinegar to taste.

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6 Responses to “Panzanella with Cannellini Beans”

  1. Tweets that mention FoodieTots.com » Blog Archive » Panzanella with Cannellini Beans -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colleen/FoodieTots, Michelle McCorkle. Michelle McCorkle said: In honor of Meatless Monday: http://foodietots.com/2010/08/06/panzanella-with-cannellini-beans/ http://fb.me/E4dadBkt [...]

  2. Diana

    Looks delicious, but keep in mind that Parmigiana cheese is rarely truly vegetarian. It’s made from enzymes which are derived from animals. I guess we can debate whether such a cheese belongs in a meat-free dish, or not.

    One could easily substitute a cheese made from a non-animal-based enzyme, if desired.

  3. foodietots
    Twitter:

    @ Diana — that’s true, you can substitute a cheese made without animal rennet if that’s important to you — or omit the cheese altogether to go vegan.

  4. Meatless Monday Campaign | Greening Austin Daily

    [...] This time around, she’s a lot more creative. With two children and a not-psyched-about-tofu husband, she’s adapted lots of recipes using grains such as quinoa and lots of beans. On her menu Monday night: stuffed zucchini boats and panzanella. [...]

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