Salad is a struggle. I like it, but not all the time. There are so many delicious salad recipes, but then you look at the ingredients and to make it taste good you’ve added so many calories you should probably just go eat the burger you really want and call it a day. But then I found panzanella. It’s unbelievably refreshing and versatile. I’ve made another version of this, a Greek panzanella, and sort of fell in love. The large pieces of toasty bread are like oversized croutons and the vegetable/herb combination is so refreshing. In this particular recipe I stuck to the olive oil and left it at that, but you can add a drizzle of vinegar and chop of some fresh herbs and toss them in. It’s certainly a taste of summer, something that I was craving here in chilly New England. Another benefit is that you can use up some of those veggies that sometimes go to waste. Also, I highly recommend freshly baked bread that’s a day old. It just takes those toasty croutons to the next level. Especially when you need to test a few pieces to be sure they are toasted just right!
- In a bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, red onion and set aside.
- In a large pan or cast iron skillet, add the bread cubes and spray liberally with oil spray and sprinkle with salt. Toast the bread in the skillet until the outside of the bread is toasty and getting golden brown. You can also grill the bread which will give it a delicious rustic flavor. To do this, slice the bread rather than cube it, spray with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on top on a heated grill. Watch closely, the slices can go from perfect to burnt in seconds! Once cooled slightly cut it into cubes.
- Once the bread is toasted, add it to the bowl with the veggies. Add the cheese and torn basil. Drizzle with olive oil. Maybe a tbsp or so. Season with salt and pepper.
- Let the salad sit for about 30 minutes...if you can wait that long! This will allow the flavors to combine.
This recipe is only slightly adapted from Skinnytaste.