Panzanella salad is like a taste of Tuscany in a bowl. It's a rustic Italian dish that's all about celebrating the simple joys of summer. Picture ripe, juicy tomatoes, chunks of day-old bread soaking up all those vibrant juices, fragrant basil leaves, and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
It's a delightful mix of textures and flavors, with the bread adding a satisfying crunch and the dressing a tangy zing. Whether you're enjoying it as a light lunch or a side dish at a barbecue, Panzanella is the embodiment of Mediterranean sunshine on a plate, and it's just the thing to make your taste buds dance with joy.
Panzanella is incredibly versatile
As if the fresh ingredients weren't enticing enough, Panzanella is incredibly versatile. You can toss in extras like cucumbers, bell peppers, or even grilled chicken to make it your own. Plus, it's a fantastic way to use up stale bread, ensuring that nothing goes to waste in your kitchen. So, the next time you find yourself with a surplus of tomatoes or some leftover baguette, remember Panzanella. It's a dish that embodies the laid-back Mediterranean spirit, where every bite is a taste of summer at its finest.
Prep time: 15 minutes (+ time to salt the tomatoes)
Cook time: 10 minutes
- Panzanella is incredibly versatile
- Ingredients needed to make Panzanella Salad
- How to make Panzanella Salad
- Variations on the Panzanella Salad recipe
- Storage for the Panzanella Salad
- Top tips for making a Panzanella Salad
- Discover Mediterranean Magic: Panzanella Salad's Fresh and Fiery Twist
Ingredients needed to make Panzanella Salad
- ½ medium red onion, sliced thin
- 1 lb. fresh cherry, grape, or heirloom tomatoes, cut in half or into bite-sized pieces
- 2 t. salt
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. Ciabatta or other crusty Italian bread, sliced ¾” thick
- ½ t. onion powder
- ½ t. garlic powder
- ½ t. Italian seasoning
- ¼ t. sea salt
- ¼ t. black pepper
- ½ c. fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry, torn into bite-sized pieces
- Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients:
- 2 T. tomato juice from salted tomatoes (see instructions below)
- 2 T. red wine vinegar
- 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- ½ t. seasoning mixture (leftover from toasting the bread, see above)
- 1 t. honey, preferably local
How to make Panzanella Salad
- Place the sliced red onion in a large bowl and set a metal colander on top.
- Add the tomatoes to the colander and sprinkle with the salt. Gently toss to combine and set aside for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange the bread slices in the skillet and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top. Sprinkle with the garlic and onion powder mixture and heat until the bread is nicely toasted on the bottom, approximately 4-5 minutes.
Tip: Reserve some of the seasoning mixture to add to the vinaigrette.
- Turn the bread and sprinkle additional seasoning mixture on top. Continue heating until the bread is evenly browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Place the torn bread chunks in a bowl and set aside.
- Remove the colander from the large bowl and carefully drain out the tomato juice in the bowl to use in the vinaigrette. Set aside.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by combining two tablespoons of the reserved tomato juice with the remaining dressing ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.
- Add the softened red onion, fresh basil, and toasted bread chunks to the seasoned tomatoes and gently toss to combine.
- Drizzle a little of the vinaigrette on top of the salad and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a large serving bowl or platter and serve immediately with the remaining dressing on the side. Enjoy!
Variations on the Panzanella Salad recipe
Giving the visitor ideas on how they can change this recipe to better suit their dinner guests, or
here are 10 tasty variations to elevate your Panzanella salad game:
- Caprese Panzanella: Combine the classic Panzanella ingredients with fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze for a Caprese twist.
- Grilled Veggie Panzanella: Grill seasonal veggies like zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers before adding them to your salad for a smoky flavor.
- Mediterranean Panzanella: Incorporate Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and red onion for a Greek-inspired take on Panzanella.
- Watermelon and Feta Panzanella: Add chunks of juicy watermelon and crumbled feta cheese for a sweet and savory combo.
- Tuna and White Bean Panzanella: Mix in canned tuna and white beans for a protein-packed variation.
- Avocado Panzanella: Creamy avocado slices add richness and texture to your salad. Don't forget the lime juice for a zesty kick.
- Berry and Goat Cheese Panzanella: Swap out the tomatoes for fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries) and goat cheese for a sweet and tangy version.
- Peach and Prosciutto Panzanella: Incorporate ripe peach slices, crispy prosciutto, and a drizzle of honey for a delightful summer twist.
- Roasted Beet Panzanella: Roast beets until tender and add them to your salad for a beautiful burst of color and earthy sweetness.
- Cucumber and Dill Panzanella: Include cucumber slices and fresh dill for a refreshing and herbaceous Panzanella.
Feel free to mix and match ingredients to create your unique Panzanella masterpiece or experiment with other seasonal favorites to keep your salad game fresh and exciting.
Storage for the Panzanella Salad
Panzanella salad can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. However, its texture and flavors are at their best when served shortly after making it. The bread in the salad will continue to absorb moisture from the vegetables and dressing over time, which can make it softer and less crunchy.
If you need to store Panzanella for a longer period, you can prepare the components separately and assemble the salad just before serving. Keep the bread, chopped vegetables, and dressing in separate containers in the fridge, and then mix them together when you're ready to enjoy the salad to maintain its freshness.
Remember to cover the Panzanella with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing unwanted odors from the fridge. Additionally, if your Panzanella contains ingredients that are highly perishable, such as seafood or dairy, it's essential to follow proper food safety guidelines and consume it within a shorter timeframe.
Top tips for making a Panzanella Salad
here are 10 top tips to keep in mind when making a delicious Panzanella Salad:
- Quality Ingredients: Start with the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find. They're the star of the show, so make them count.
- Bread Matters: Use day-old or slightly stale bread for the best texture. It soaks up the flavors without becoming too soggy.
- Chunky Is Chic: Cut your bread and veggies into bite-sized, rustic chunks. It adds to the salad's charm and texture.
- Season Well: Be generous with salt and pepper. Seasoning brings out the flavors of the ingredients.
- Dress It Up: Let the salad sit for about 30 minutes after adding the dressing. This allows the flavors to meld and the bread to absorb the juices.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh basil is the classic choice, but don't be afraid to experiment with other herbs like mint, parsley, or cilantro for unique flavors.
- Balance Acid and Oil: The right balance of olive oil and vinegar (usually red wine vinegar) is key. Taste as you go and adjust to your preference.
- Toast the Bread: Consider toasting the bread cubes lightly in the oven or on the grill before adding them to the salad for an extra layer of flavor and crunch.
- Add Extras: Feel free to get creative with add-ins like olives, cheese, grilled chicken, or even fruits like peaches or strawberries.
- Serve Chilled: Panzanella is best enjoyed cold or at room temperature, so refrigerate it for a while before serving, especially on a hot day.
Remember, Panzanella is a forgiving recipe that welcomes your personal touch and whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand. Enjoy experimenting and savoring the delicious results!
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