Any dish that starts off with garlic croutons has a special place in our hearts. And that pretty much sums up our love for the Panzanella salad. A classic Italian summer dish, Panzanella cleverly marries crispy hunks of bread with fresh tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Our version goes one giant gourmet step further, featuring a stunning purple basil and pine nut pesto. Just like its better-known green cousin, purple basil has all the same flavour-enhancing qualities with a subtle kick of anise. Paired here with tender slices of pan-seared steaks, our Panzanella is guaranteed to win over lots of hearts!
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Place the sliced onions in a bowl and toss with the vinegar. Mince one garlic clove and smash the other clove. Large dice the tomato and cucumber. Pick the purple basil off the stems. Slice the baguette in half lengthwise.
Toast the croutons
Place the sliced baguette on a lined sheet pan; lightly drizzle with olive oil. Toast in the oven, 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, carefully rub the bread with the smashed garlic clove; discard the clove. Transfer the toasted bread to a cutting board and medium dice. Place the garlic croutons in a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and season with S&P to taste.
Toast the pine nuts
While the baguette toasts, heat a large, dry pan on medium-high. Add the pine nuts and toast, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned and fragrant (keep an eye on them as they can burn easily). Immediately transfer to a bowl. Wipe out the pan.
Cook the steaks
In the reserved pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high. Pat the steaks dry with paper towel; season with the spice blend and S&P. Add the seasoned steaks to the pan and cook, 3 to 5 minutes per side, until cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a plate leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Let the steaks rest at least 5 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.
Make the pesto
While the steaks rest, finely chop the toasted pine nuts; transfer to a medium bowl. Add ½ the basil (roughly chop just before adding), minced garlic and Parmesan. Slowly whisk in 3 tbsp of olive oil to create a rough paste (double for 4 portions); season with S&P to taste.
Make the panzanella & serve
To the bowl of garlic croutons, add the tomato, cucumber, the remaining basil (roughly chop before adding), the marinated onions and as much of the marinating liquid as you’d like. Toss the salad with the basil pesto and season with S&P to taste. Divide the finished steaks between your plates and serve the panzanella salad on the side. Bon appétit!
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