Panzanella Salad is one of my favorite recipes. Simple and easy. I would say I make this at least every other weekend. It makes the perfect meal during the weekends, and also works as an appetizer or as a fresh snack. When I make this, it never lasts for longer than a day.
You can make Panzanella Salad several different ways, the ingredients you decide to use really come down to your preference. But the starting point is always toasted bread or croutons, tomatoes, and cucumbers. From there your creativity is the limit. The recipe below is probably my favorite way to make Panzanella Salad, but you are free to make this as you wish. I like to add the pepperoncini for a little extra spicy kick and the meat serves to really fortify the salad, but of course you can keep it vegetarian by skipping the meat, at your option.
Sometimes I am lazy about things and will use store bought Italian seasoned croutons. But if I have some stale bread lying around, I will also cut these up into cubes, drizzle with evoo, and toast them in the oven at 300 degrees for fifteen minutes. When it comes to the bread, very crispy is what you want. The crispy bread cubes or croutons will moisten a bit in the tomato juices and dressing, but will not become soggy. Soggy bread will ruin this dish in my opinion, so be careful.
And the dressing is just loaded with savory taste. From the balsamic vinegar to the Parmigiano Reggiano, this salad becomes the perfect blend of spice, savory, salty, sweet, and sour. Mix the dressing well just before drizzling it in, and give it all a good toss in a large bowl. It is important to chill the salad for at least an hour before serving to let the tomato juices and dressing get into the bread and the other ingredients. But force yourself to wait, it will be worth it. Bon appetit, this salad is delicious!
The sky is the limit when it comes to mix and match options for this Simple Italian Panzanella Salad. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, Italian meats, bread, and oh that dressing, my goodness!
- 1 large cucumber (sliced and quartered)
- 5-6 plum tomatoes (sliced and quartered)
- 1/2 of a red onion (chopped)
- 1 cup toasted croutons
- 2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese
- 8 spicy pepperoncini (chopped)
- 8 spicy pepperoncini (whole)
- 1 large summer sausage (genoa or hard salami, sliced and quartered)
- 5-6 large fresh basil leaves (chopped)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
In a large bowl, put the croutons in the bottom and add the tomatoes. Let the tomato juices run over the croutons for a few minutes.
Next add the cucumbers, red onion, and pepperoncini.
Tear the mozzarella cheese into small pieces and add along with the meat.
Give the ingredients a good mix.
In a separate bowl mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, garlic, red pepper, salt, cheese, and dijon mustard. Once the dressing is well mixed pour the mixture into the salad and mix well.
Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, giving it a stir every half hour or so. This is necessary to allow the bread to soak up the juices from the tomatoes and dressing. Be patient.
When you are ready to serve, garnish with the fresh chopped basil.