Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Octopus panzanella

The month of June was a pretty rainy, cool month here in Milan. It got a little frustrating after the tenth storm in a row at exactly 5.30pm, which is when I pick up the kids up from daycare and kindergarden. But hey, I'm not complaining because it was not hot and humid.

Until a couple of days ago that is.

You know the summer heat has hit in Milan when:
- you can park exactly where you want to on week ends
- the sidewalks are full of little holes left by the fashionable Milanese wearing their multicolored Tod's and Car Shoes
- you can find a table outdoors under the pergola at your favorite brunch place with only a few day's notice
- you have visions of biking home in the winter with gloves and a hat on while waiting for a light to turn green
- you start looking forward to going to work every morning because of the AC
- you look and smell like a mosquito repellent sales rep
- you dream of eating ice cold, soggy toast

Yes, I just wrote that.

No, it is not as bad as it sounds. Not if the toast has a mild garlic taste and the crunchiness is softened by the juices of ripe red tomatoes and the best quality olive oil.

In comes panzanella, the famous bread salad.

This is a panzanella made my way. I am aware that panzanella is traditionally made without seafood, with the addition of raw onions and vinegar, and last but definitely not least, with stale bread, preferably the Tuscan variety without salt. But hey, I didn't have any stale bread so I used delicious whole grain bread with sunflower seeds instead. Do you blame me? And since it was a week night (i.e. I would be mingling with colleagues in the office at 7am the next morning) and the kids were eating with us, I decided to leave out the red onion and rubbed the abovementioned bread with garlic bruschetta-style. It was oh so good... And to give it the missing crunch I threw in some celery. No vinegar, which I normally use, because I wanted the delicate flavor of the octopus to really shine through. If I had had some black olives in the house (or preferably the small Taggiasca variety) I would have added those too.

Here is another panzanella recipe you might like.

whole grain bread
extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the octopus this way. Slice the bread and toast it. Rub it with garlic and cut into approx. 1 inch squares. Cut the octopus, tomatoes and celery into bite size pieces. Chop up some fresh mint. Mix all the ingredients together, dress with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve cold. 


  1. This a new salad to me. Very interesting to have octopus in it. I think it i a good idea using whatever you have and till come out with a tasty salad. Looks very tempting to me:D

  2. Hehe I must admit I did a double take when you said that about the toast! :P But I see what you mean when I saw the rest. I do love a panzanella salad very much and adding octopus is a great idea!

  3. This looks great! I never made panzanella in any form... I think I should add it to my summer dishes! Your version with the octopus makes me miss octopus very much!

  4. Your panzanella is our fattoush and I love the idea of adding some sea creatures to it~ Milan struck me when I visited decades ago as the most fashionable city of Europe, people there were way better dressed than the Parisians. Guess it is still this way?

  5. I love your version of panzanella! I've still yet to try even the original, but I think I just may start off with yours - it's so exotic and enticing =)

  6. Quay Po - Glad you liked the idea.
    Lorraine - hehe, when it comes down to it that is what panzanella is, sort of. Goes to show how much words can change appeal...
    Pola - you must make it, in whatever form. It is so simple yet so tasty and refreshing.
    ToB - I love the idea of having made a fattoush! Let's say the Milanese enjoy their clothes. You never see people walking out in their PJs or yoga pants to grab a latte!
    Peggy - the octopus is a bonus, but even just the simple, original version is delicious.

  7. It is good to be back at last catching up with your blogging activities, we do not seem to have had the rain you had or maybe it was all when we were in the Uk, good timing!

  8. Ohhhhh buona! You miss winter and I miss summer!!! hahaha We should swap for a while! ;-) I love the description of Milan in summer... so true! I started feeling sticky just to think about it!!! hehehe I love this version of panzanella. Such a great idea to add octopus! :-)

  9. Lindy - it is good to have you back. I think the Northern part of Italy had the most rain.
    Manu - Well, I am not crazy about heat and humidity in the city but I am actually really glad it is summer. Especially when we go on vacation, but that is still far off!

  10. I love Octopus actually I had never eaten octopus in this way I had eaten octopus with rice it has been one of my special recipes so that's why I want to prepare this variation to cook Octopus, by the way I love sea food and my family too.


Leave a suggestion, opinion or your own experience. I love hearing from you.