By Chef Ella Freyinger

April 2021

6 Servings

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A beautiful Italian woman, referred to as mama by all, taught me how to make a traditional panzanella many years ago. Until that day I had believed that panzanella was torn bread dressed with a vinaigrette and the regions produce, drowning in olive oil. It took nearly everything in me to not gasp when she poured a bucket of water over a beautiful bowl of fresh bread. Our mind can become so rigid, so attached to beliefs that we never seek to discover their validity. This simple moment shifted my perception of what makes incredible food. To see how water is as crucial an ingredient as any other is a gift I strive to pass on through my own relationship with food and the ways that I create. We overlooked Lago di Trasimeno as murmurings of starlings danced through the ether of dusk. A plate of panzanella before us. Water, bread, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and salt. I invite you to explore the world of panzanella, add any ingredients that fill your heart and speak to your body. This dish is a gift from the hands of all that have soaked their bread in water to reveal how truly divine simplicity can be.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE SEED BRITTLE:
  • 2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp finely minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Dijon
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar 
  • ½ cup FE olive oil 
  • 1 ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • FOR THE PANZANELLA:
  • 1 bunch collard greens 
  • 6 cups cubed bread, stale or dried out overnight 
  • Filtered water 

Steps

  • FOR THE SEED BRITTLE:
  • Add all seeds and spices to a skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add the honey and olive oil, stirring constantly until all seeds are evenly coated and begin sticking together, about 4 minutes. At this point the honey will have lost its moisture and there should be no more bubbling in the pan. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
  • Place the red wine vinegar and shallots into a small sauce pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Can be made up to 3 days before. 
  • FOR THE PANZANELLA:
  • Place the bread cubes in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Set aside.
  • Remove the ribs from the collard greens by cutting another either side of the tough stem. Stack the collard leaves on top of each other and cut into ⅛-inch-thick ribbons.
  • Next, squeeze any excess water out of the bread and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the collard greens and vinaigrette, tossing to coat.
  • Enjoy!