How to Make a Panzanella with Any Produce (Infographic)
You know those blistering hot summer days when the last thing you want to be doing is standing over a hot stove? You need something simple yet satisfying; leafy green salad will most-likely have you reaching for the snack drawer an hour later. But one with bread as a base, supplemented by juicy, fresh summer produce and creamy cheese, feels right for a salad fit for dinnertime.
Panzanella, traditionally a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes, is easy to assemble on hot (or rushed) summer days and features some of the season’s bounty. Think juicy tomatoes right off the vine, firm cucumbers, bright and crunchy bell peppers — you get the point. The best part is that you can really throw just about anything into a panzanella salad and it’ll still be delicious (albeit less traditional). It’s a foolproof summer meal that you’ll want to keep in your weekly rotation.
If you have stale bread lying around (it’s hard to finish those huge Tartine loaves) this salad is its new home. Stale bread is dry enough to absorb tomato-y juices and vinaigrette without turning mushy. Cut the bread into small cubes and toss into a bowl. If you don’t have stale bread around the kitchen, you can toast fresh bread in low heat for about 15 minutes so it dries out a bit. You want it firm but not overly toasted.
The Tomatoes & Vegetables
Panzanellas are the most delicious when there are plenty of tomato juices to coat the salad. You’re going to want to bring in some heavy hitters here — peak season heirlooms and the like. Pick a few different varieties so you have a nice colorful salad.
Tomatoes not in season? Play with roasted asparagus, snap peas, even stone fruit. Anything with a bit of a softer texture works well.
Skip the store-bought vinaigrette. It’ll be a little too thick to work in this salad. Instead, combine three parts olive oil to one part red wine vinegar (add in some minced garlic if you’d like). Be sure to season with salt and pepper!
Like we mentioned, you can really make panzanella your own by adding more! Love onions? Toss in a handful of sliced red onions to add a little crunch and kick. If you have any cucumbers or pepper on hand, those are great additions as well to add more texture and color. Just take a look through the fridge and see what you have a on hand to play with. There are no rules here. Even corn, green beans, and mozzarella are fair game.