I’ve been very concerned with the end of summer this year. Usually I’m more than ready to usher in fall and cooler temperatures, but this year I’m trying to extend the season as much as possible. It all goes back to food… I’m not ready to give up all the delicious, fresh, summer vegetables and fruits yet.
While I still have the chance, I decided to take advantage of these veggies and made a large panzanella salad. I filled it with lots of fresh vegetables, herbs, cheese, olives and crusty bread. It was fresh, hearty and totally satisfying.
Panzanella is a Tuscan dish made with stale bread. The main components are the crusty, stale bread, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cheese, olives or capers, dried meats, cucumbers, onions or shallots, hearty lettuces and a tart pop of vinegar and olive oil. You can mix and match any of these ingredients and add anything else that you love. That is the great thing about this salad, anything goes.
This is definitely a “everything but the kitchen sink” salad. All of the ingredients work off of each other and create a dish that screams, umami. The cheese brings salt, the red wine vinegar gives a hint of sweetness, the olives provide a pop of tart flavor and the fresh herbs and lettuce lend a slightly bitter taste. All of your taste buds will thank you for making this salad. Another great thing? The crusty bread soaks up all of these flavors, creating flavor explosions in every single bite.
What are your favorite ingredients to use when making panzanella?
Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes
3-4 cups ciabatta, stale and torn
2-3 cups arugula, baby spinach and romaine
1 1/2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, torn
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/3 cup English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/8 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes
salt + pepper
If your bread is fresh or not stale enough, broil the torn bread pieces until crisp and dry. Keep an eye on the oven, you don’t want the bread to burn.
Prepare your other ingredients. Wash and cut any large tomatoes. Slice the red onion and cucumbers into thin slices. Rip the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and make sure there are no pits in the olives. Wash your lettuce and basil. Set aside.
To make the dressing add the red wine vinegar, Dijon, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl, whisking to emulsify the dressing. Whisk until the dressing has thickened. Taste for seasoning.
Add the tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, mozzarella, lettuce, basil and torn bread to the bowl. Gently toss the ingredients together until the dressing is evenly distributed. You can prepare this 30 minutes before serving. Toss with more vinegar and olive oil if needed.