Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons

Use up all those late summer tomatoes in my Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons for a fabulous side salad!

Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons

If you love tomatoes you are gonna love this salad.  Juicy ripe tomatoes are the star of this Tuscan dish along with mozzarella cheese, red onion, basil, and the BEST homemade croutons!  This is the perfect dish to use up all your tomato harvest, or take advantage of the late summer tomatoes that are full of flavor available in the stores and farmers markets.  

The other highlight of the dish is the HOMEMADE croutons!  They are really so easy to make you won't believe it.  They soak up the delicious vinaigrette that we will be making and just take this salad to a whole different level.  Remember using the ripest, freshest, and highest quality ingredients (since there aren't many ingredients) for the best tasting salad.


What Ingredients do I need?

  • French bread loaf
  • olive oil
  • tomatoes - ripe - good types would be Roma, on the vine, or heirloom if you like
  • red onion
  • fresh basil
  • mozzarella - I used "pearls" or "Ciliegine" which are small balls of mozzarella
  • red wine vinegar
  • garlic
  • salt & pepper

Substitutions and Variations

  • Add chopped cucumber
  • Add roasted or grilled chicken for a main entree salad
  • Add salami, procuitto, or ham, or a combination for an Italian Chopped(ish) Panzanella Salad
  • Turn this Greek by switching mozzarella for feta, adding cucumber and kalamata olives
  • Use heirloom cherry tomatoes for more color
  • For a Southern spin make cornbread croutons
  • Don't have red wine vinegar?  White wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar will all work well.

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Make your croutons first.
  • Day old bread works best however, I've used fresh French baguette with no problems!
  • Croutons can be a Make-Ahead item:  you can make these up to a week head and keep them at room temperature.
  • Good breads for croutons:  French Baguette, ciabatta, sourdough (make crispy croutons) Soft bread such as focaccia or sandwich bread will make a softer crouton that may become soggy.
  • Don't skip the homemade vinaigrette!  It's light and vibrant and adds tons of flavor to the salad.

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Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons 

serves 4

1/2 loaf French bread or baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
4-6 ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 oz fresh mozzarella pearls, halved
1/4 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.   Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss to coast and then spread all the cubes out in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake for 9-12 minutes until toasted.  Remove from oven when golden and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl or mason jar combine your vinaigrette ingredients and whisk or shake until emulsified.  Set aside.

In a large bowl add tomatoes, cheese, red onion, croutons, and chopped basil.  Drizzle with the dressing and toss so all items are coated.  Serve.

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