Having my daughter visit recently, I needed to make a “meat-free” dish for her. Now, in our house, once and a while, Steve loves “meat-free” meals, however; for a main course, he prefers some type of protein.
I’m thinking what better way to do this than with a Panzanella Salad that makes everyone happy. This traditional Italian salad is basically a tomato and bread salad. Today I’m going to put a spin on tradition.
Prep Time:: 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheets pans, large mixing bowl, medium-size mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, whisk, Chef’s knife, large serving bowl with utensils
Ingredients For Panzanella Salad:
1 English cucumber, cut into half-moons then cut half-moon in half
1/2 red onion sliced into thinly sliced half-moon
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pint of red and grape tomatoes, halved
1 pint of yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, zested
3/4 pound of Genoa salami, diced (optional)
6 ounces of Feta cheese, diced
4 to 6 cups of Homemade Croutons
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Ingredients For Croutons, Oven Bake Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Ingredients For Lemon Vinaigrette:
Yields: 8 ounces
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice (3 to 4 juicy lemons)
2 tablespoons of shallots, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon of garlic, freshly grated (optional)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of Agave nectar
1/2 cup of *E.V.O.O.
Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly.
Note: The Homemade Croutons will absorb the dressing better when warm.
In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, add the diced cucumber, halved tomatoes, sliced onions, diced bell pepper, lemon zest, and chopped basil, gently toss to combine.
In a small serving bowl add the diced Genoa salami allowing the option to add it to the individual Panzanella Salad once served.
This vinaigrette can be made while the croutons are in the oven.
In a medium-size mixing bowl add 1/4 fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, grated garlic, dried oregano, Agave nectar, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the *E.V.O.O. whisk to combine.
Once the croutons are done, immediately transfer them into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad. Finally, add the diced Feta cheese, gently toss to combine. There you have it, my Panzanella Salad.
*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.