This rustic, Tuscan bread salad is everything I love about summer. It takes advantage of all the garden-fresh vegetables the season has to offer to make a summer salad that is just as visually pleasing as it is delicious.
Panzanella is very easy to make and great to take on picnics or to the beach. It also makes a lovely main dish for casual dining among friends.
Big chunks of toasty croutons are a signature ingredient of panzanella. It’s a great way to use leftover bread. Don’t use bread that’s more than two days old because as the bread dries up, it will become very difficult to cut.
When you have leftover bread, cut it up into chunks before it gets rock-hard, and store in an airtight plastic bag until you are ready to make your salad. Heat up some olive oil, toast the bread, chop the vegetables and enjoy this fresh and simple summer dish.
Panzanella is meant to be rustic so don’t worry about cutting everything uniformly.
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Makes 2 to 4 servings
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 baguette, cut into large cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 English cucumber, cut into large dice
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large dice
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into large dice
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 large tomato, seeded and cut into large dice
Fresh basil, about 15 leaves, torn in pieces by hand
3 tablespoons capers
1 cup crumbled fresh feta cheese
- Heat a sauté pan with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add cubed bread and toast about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Once the bread is golden on all sides, transfer to a sheet pan or large plate to cool.
- To make dressing in medium bowl combine garlic, mustard, vinegar, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and whisk to incorporate all the ingredients. Then slowly add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a steady stream while whisking; this will emulsify the dressing.
- In a large salad bowl, add all the vegetables, basil, capers, feta cheese, and the toasted bread. Drizzle the dressing on top and toss to mix well. The salad can be served immediately or let it sit for up to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
Zoe McLaughlin was born in Paris and grew up in San Francisco. Her international background has influenced her love of cooking and her dedication to learning about global cuisines and cooking methods. Zoe is a recent graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris. She followed her degree with an intensive stagiare position at a bistro in Paris before returning to San Francisco. Zoe enjoys sharing the knowledge and skills she has learned from her culinary degree, apprenticeships and world travel. She is the author of a self-published cookbook, Around our Table, focusing on Asian and French cuisines.
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