Panzanella is a bread salad, basically, where you can incorporate a ton of fresh vegetables in one simple meal. The first time I saw this recipe was on Barefoot Contessa while I was out of work after surgery. It looked fantastic but complicated. Boy, was I wrong! Later I saw a recipe for Greek panzanella on my favorite cooking blog and it turns out to be adapted from Ina Garten’s.
This is my adapted version from Annie’s Eats, which is adapted from Barefoot Contessa. In order to make it less time consuming I do the bread differently than their recipes call for and we like it a little better – it keeps the bread crunchy even on the second day and adds to the overall crunchiness of the salad. I have decided that I will try to incorporate this into my meal routine every week, mostly likely for my daily lunches.
Yield: 6 servings
1 loaf whole-wheat French bread, cut into 1” cubes
For the bread: olive oil, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil
4 bell peppers, in different colors, large dice
1 red onion, large dice
3 stalks celery, large dice
1lb button mushrooms, wiped clean, large dice
1 cucumber, large dice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can small pitted olives, drained well
½ cup banana pepper rings
6oz. crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced (or use a Microplane, my preferred method)
1 ¼ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup good olive oil
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl combine all of your chopped vegetables and cheese and set to the side. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for your vinaigrette, and then drizzle over your chopped vegetables. Toss well to coat and set in the fridge to marinate.
On a large baking sheet, lay out your bread cubes in a single layer and drizzle well with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and dried basil and toss cubes to coat. If any of the seasoning falls to the bottom of the pan, scoop it up and sprinkle it back over the top. Bake in a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until nice and brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
When you’re ready to serve your salad, combine the marinated veggies with the baked bread cubes and toss to coat so that some of the marinade seeps into the bread. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for the next day.