Blackberry Basil Panzanella

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How many ways could I start this post? On the way to blackberry pie, I…

On the way to blackberry pie, I got lazy, and decided to spend five minutes instead of 60 in the kitchen and go to the pool.

On the way to blackberry pie, I got daring and creative and made something I never heard of or thought of until just now.

On the way to blackberry pie, I got frugal and Italian and decided to use the rest of my tuscan bread for a delicious panzanella.

Perhaps all are true. Perhaps I was just too hungry for blackberries to wait for dough to chill, roll and bake. Or, perhaps this is just simply a better, more delicious choice.

Whatever conclusions you draw, I encourage you to think outside the box, and do whatever you can to cook with simplicity, while boosting flavor.

I’m sure a blackberry pie is somewhere in my future, but today, the tuscan toast soaking in blackberry juice, brightened with lemon and fresh basil just couldn’t be a better choice.

There is one important thing to keep in mind. You must use the right bread. This is a tuscan bread. When it sits on the counter, it gets very chewy, not crunchy. When you toast it, it doesn’t make many crumbs. It will hold the juice of the fruit and not get mushy.

Blackberries are a bit bitter. You will need to soak them in a water, drain, toss with sugar and allow them to sit overnight in the refrigerator.

This was sweet and satisfying, making a Sunday morning breakfast extra special and perfect for a very hot day.

This is one of those “idea” dishes, where you can use your imagination, and add in other types of summer fruits.

I purchased the blackberries at the Franklin Farmer’s Market and the bread at the local bakery, Provence. The basil is from my garden.

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Blackberry Basil Panzanella

Fresh blackberries, basil make an unusual dessert of panzanella.
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4


  • 1 pint blackberries
  • Squeeze of half lemon
  • zest of half lemon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 thick slices stale tuscan bread or sour dough
  • 1 t butter
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash cinnamon
  • 8 leaves fresh basil chiffonade


  • Soak one pint of blackberries in water for a few minutes. Toss sugar with lemon zest, using your fingers.
  • Drain most of water, add sugar, lemon juice and chill overnight.
  • In the meantime, set bread on counter, cut into cubes to further dry it out.
  • Toast bread, butter, add cinnamon sugar. Cut into cubes.
  • Fry cubes to further crisp (or pop into oven for few minutes).
  • Toss blackberries with a few grindings of nutmeg and most of the basil, saving some for garnish.
  • Toss bread and blackberries together. Pour some of the juice onto the bread in each serving.
  • Garnish with basil.

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