We do a really simple salad dressing in China: rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and coarse sugar. It seriously goes with everything – cold noodles, dumplings, baozi, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, peanuts, scallion pancakes – seriously, everything! So why not put it on panzanella salad?
You’ll need hearty whole wheat or whole grain country bread, cubed and pan fried in salted butter. Chop your veggies, whisk the dressing until thick, then toss it all together with the bread. Let the bread soak in the salad for 20 minutes. I like to put this salad in completely airtight Tupperware so I can flip the container halfway through and let the juices dribble down to the top layer. That way the bread soaks evenly.
The best part though? Toast some sesame seeds and sprinkle them generously on the salad just before serving.
Max ate about two pounds of this so I guess it was tasty 😉
- Melt a tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat in a large pan and add a single layer of bread cubes to the pan. Toast for a few minutes, then flip and toast again. Repeat until all the bread cubes are toasted. Set aside on a baking sheet to cool.
- Chop tomatoes and cucumbers into large chunks. Tear the basil leaves off their stems and into smaller pieces if the leaves are large. Combine cooled bread cubes, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and corn in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and salt until thickened. You can also do this in a bottle and shake it up. Drizzle the dressing over the bread salad, toss to combine, then place in an airtight container for 10 minutes. Flip the container upside down and let stand for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and shaking the pan. The sesame seeds should darken slightly and begin to smell fragrant. Let cool, then sprinkle on the salad before serving.
My preferred brand of Chinese black rice vinegar is Chinkiang Vinegar