Hi! Have you ever had panzanella salad? It’s a hearty salad made with crispy (usually day old) bread cubes, assorted vegetables and a vinegar based dressing. It’s refreshing, but filling enough to serve as a meal if it’s too hot too cook, or you’re too tired after a long day. It also is a great way to use up old bread and clean out your crisper drawers in your refrigerator.
For today’s salad, I made my own bread & used the oven to crisp it up and also grilled some summer squash that I had sitting in the fridge as an addition, but you can obviously make things much more simple on yourself by buying a loaf of a crusty bread such as ciabatta & using vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers that you’d normally have on hand. I’m sharing today’s recipe below, but use that as a guideline and make it your own! Panzanella is best served the day it’s made.
6-8 cups crusty bread, cubed (few days old or toasted in the oven to crisp) I made my own using this recipe.
2 summer squash, grilled & chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped (I used one large tomato and a handful of cherry tomatoes)
1 cucumber, chopped (peeled & seeded if you prefer)
1/2 onion, finely chopped (I recommend red or Vidalia)
basil leaves, thinly sliced and parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar is fine too)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt & pepper to taste
1. If you’re going to grill vegetables (such as summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms or onions), prepare those first. For the summer squash, I cut them into thirds lengthwise and drizzled each side with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Grill over high heat for just a few minutes until you see grill marks on each side, but you don’t want the vegetables to be mushy. Remove to a plate and let cool completely.
2. Prepare the bread, If you’re using day old bread, you can just cube the bread and toss it into a large bowl. If you have fresh bread, cut into cubes and toast at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or so to dry it out (a drizzle of olive oil can help with browning, if you want your bread to be browned) and then place in large bowl after it cools down.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
4. Add vegetables to crusty bread in large bowl.
5. Pour dressing over vegetables and bread, toss together to coat. Let sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the dressing to absorb a little and soften the bread.
6. Garnish with thinly sliced basil (and some parmesan cheese if you’re feeling it!) and eat!
We had our panzanella alongside turkey burgers with feta sauce & it was a perfect summer evening meal!