Panzanella: Tuscan Bread Salad, Fall Edition | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Panzanella: Tuscan Bread Salad, Fall Edition

Why not make an extra big batch of what you are cooking and share it with other families?

This recipe is one that a friend of mine, Leah Helou, made. We used to have a weekly food exchange and it was so great! We were part of a group called Highland Park Food Co-Op. Every week, we had a deal: You are cooking for your family, so why not make an extra-big batch of your dish and share it with other families? Four or five women participated in each exchange, so each would come home with four extra dishes and be set for the week! It was brilliant. Then our careers and families all evolved, some people moved, and soon our group was no more. I have fond memories of great meals shared, including this one. 


  • About 1 lb. stale sourdough bread or ciabatta
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (whip out “the good bottle”)
  • 1 bag salad mix; romaine makes it crunchy!
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ pound blanched green beans
  • 1 cup roasted squash (whatever is available), diced
  • A handful of small capers, drained
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 5 tsp. good quality white-wine or apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch basil. This is hard to find fresh in the fall; can substitute a heaping teaspoon of dried basil
  • Roasted walnuts for sprinkling on top


Cut the bread into large cubes. Toss with half the olive oil and roast in a preheated 350-degree oven, although roasting is optional. Toss with onion, vegetables, chickpeas and capers in a large serving bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the rest of the olive oil with vinegar and sugar. Pour dressing over the salad and season generously with salt and pepper. Tear basil (or add dried basil), add it to the bowl and toss together. Taste for seasoning. You can serve the salad right away or let it stand at room temperature for about an hour to let the flavors blend. Serves four to six.

Leah Lizarondo is a writer, speaker and food-access advocate.

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