Despite its simplicity, a Purslane Panzanella is more than just another tomato salad with croutons. Good Italian bread is important. Ciabatta will do in a pinch but unsalted Tuscan pane sciocco is traditional. Whatever you choose it must be stale. Don’t waste your time trying to make it with fresh bread – it will just disintegrate.
- 6 ounce Italian style rustic bread (with crusts)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- 2–3 good size heirloom tomatoes (or more if small, about 4 cups chopped)
- ½ red onion
- 2 cup purslane (loosely packed)
- 1 cup whole fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
- 4 ounce diced aged goat cheese (optional)
Slice or tear the bread into bite-sized cubes. Spread the bread cubes over a baking sheet. Leave uncovered overnight to stale and harden. Alternatively, bake in a 300°F oven until hardened on the outside but still slightly soft in the middle, 8 to 12 minutes, tossing once or twice during baking. Do not toast the bread all the way.
Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper in a jar. Shake vigorously. Alternatively, combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Shake or mix the vinaigrette again just before serving.
Chop the tomatoes and cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Slice the onion into thin slices.
Combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and fold to thoroughly combine. Let the salad sit at least half an hour or up to 4 hours before serving. Stir occasionally so the juices and vinaigrette are evenly distributed.
Just before serving stir in the purslane and basil. Garnish with goat cheese (if using).