Sunday, October 5, 2014

Autumn Panzanella for an Unprocessed #SundaySupper

Autumn Panzanella for an Unprocessed #SundaySupper

Personally, I had difficulty choosing a dish for this week's #SundaySupper event because I found the theme too broad. Let's put aside the argument of what's considered processed for a moment and specify that processed food as convenience food (i.e. boxed macaroni and cheese, spiced ham, cheese out of a can, etc.) I'd have to look but, outside of boxed pasta, I use these types of ingredients so infrequently that the possibilities were almost endless. That's not to say my diet is completely free of processed foods, but the difference is that I don't publish the processed foods here.

Panzanella is a traditional Italian tomato and bread salad eaten in the summer when tomatoes are in season but Chef Michael Chiarello has adapted the concept for the other three seasons of the year.

The Challenge

Prepare a dish that uses as close to unprocessed food as I can get.

The Source

Adapted from page 95 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher.


1 tablespoon plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
6 cups day-old bread, crust removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 yellow onion, chopped coarsely
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons warm water
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh mushrooms of different varieties, coarsely sliced or quartered
1 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced*
2 ounces baby arugula


1. Make the panzanella croutons. Using the bread, parmesan and4 tablespoons butter, make the panzanella croutons as described in step 1 of my other panzanella dish. Set aside.

2. Prepare the dressing. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-low hear. Add the yellow onion and sauté until soft, approximately 15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar. Empty the contents of the skillet into a blender and pureé. While the blender is still on, slowly add in 5 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer the dressing to a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

3. Prepare the mushrooms. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and place over high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the mushrooms in a single layer, however do not touch them for approximately 2 minutes so they may caramelize. Once caramelized, stir, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until well browned. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan and stir for an additional minute to release their fragrance. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat. Add the mushrooms to a large bowl along with the croutons and the dressing, then toss. Add in the red onions and arugula and toss again. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, then serve.

*Note: Peel the 'paper' off the onion and slice off both the root and stem ends, then cut in half lengthwise and thinly slice each half lengthwise.


Hopefully, you'll agree that this is a dish of unprocessed foods. I did have an issue when tossing the salad, however. Chef Chiarello instructs to toss the ingredients with the croutons which left them soggy and me a little confused. Is the bread in the panzanella supposed to soak up the other flavors in the dish or provide a contrast in texture? Any Italians reading this that can shed some light?

Meanwhile, check out the other dishes of unprocessed foods participating this week:

Alluring Appetizers and Stunning Sides
Enticing Entreés
Decadent Desserts
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


  1. I have no idea if the bread is supposed to stay crunchy but I do love all the flavors you have going on here, DB, especially those caramelized mushrooms. Thanks for hosting this great theme!

  2. I could make a meal on this salad. I think the bread is supposed to stay relatively crunchy.

  3. Love all the flavors in this dish! Thanks for hosting this event!

  4. I agree the theme was broad, but you chose a great dish here. I've been wanting to make a panzanella too. I did think that the bread is toasted to the point of being crunchy so that it absorbs the dressing.

  5. I love anything with mushrooms! And I thought the bread was supposed to stay a little crunchy, but should also absorb some of the flavors and moisture.

  6. Doing a autumn panzanella sounds delicious! This is definitely one salad that can change with the seasons. Thanks for hosting this week DB.

  7. I've never tried panzanella, but this recipe sounds delicious - I love the autumnal flavours. Thanks so much for hosting!

  8. I love panzanella, but only make it in the summer. Thanks for sharing a delicious option for the other 9 months of the year. I don't know if it's right or not, but I don't like soggy bread in my salad, so I just let the croutons absorb a bit of the dressing. Thanks for hosting us this week...especially when you probably had to get up at 4 AM to collect the links :/

  9. Thanks for hosting this week. I, like Liz, had only made panzanella during the summer. But just last week, I tried an autumn panzanella. Great minds!! ;)

  10. Take 2: Love your definition of unprocessed as nothing - except pasta - out of a box. Thank you for hosting this soiree AND introducing panzanella. The Italians always seem to know how to mix and match ingredients - like the gourmet DB!

  11. This would be a great use for all the stale bread after my stepbrother's pre-wedding brunch!

  12. I love Panzanella and your fall version sounds scrumptious!

    I'm with you - apart from boxed pasta (which I buy the ones just with flour and water, maybe egg) the possibilities were endless.

    So great to meet you in Seattle - hopefully next year we can meet up again!

  13. PS, Thank you for hosting - West Coast hosting shows a lot of dedication since I know how early you have to get up to do the links for everyone!

  14. What a perfectly heathy fall dish! Mmmmmm!!!!

  15. Panzanella is one of my favorite salads and I really love what you've done with yours by adding the mushrooms and arugula! So delicious! Thanks for hosting this week too. You did a fabulous job!
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  16. Great recipe - thanks so much for hosting this week!

  17. This sounds amazing crunchy or not! I've never made panzanella before but now I want to! Thanks for hosting!

  18. This salad sound wonderful DB!! I could eat the whole bowl myself!

  19. Thanks DB for hosting! I could eat the panzanella anytime!

  20. GREAT job, DB, with selecting a perfect unprocessed recipe. I love to make panzanellas with seasonal veggies - so this is right up my alley. And thanks for doing such a wonderful job hosting us this week!!

  21. Looks tasty! Thanks again for hosting!

  22. I love the distinction you make about posting and making "processed" recipes--I love this space on your blog because it does always feel so fresh! Thanks for sharing and for hosting this week. I'm loving those croutons!

  23. Gotta love a good comfort salad. Looks great DB!!


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