Panzenella Salad is for salad haters. It’s like the best possible case scenario for a salad. This year for my birthday, Jenny made me dinner. She had talked to me about side dishes, and then brought up the word “salad” and asked what kind I liked best. “Meh, I don’t like salad.” I said, and this is how I learned of Panzanella Salad.
The thing with salads is that to me, they will never be as face melting as pork belly sliders or poutine. So why should I waste stomach space on it? I know, I know, I should because it’s good for you. I know. I agree. Still doesn’t mean I like it, or am happy about eating it. I am happy about eating sandwiches, and since Panzanella Salad is basically a salad made of a sandwich, I think it’s the best salad ever.
Simple Panzanella Salad
Serves 5 to 7
1 French baguette, cubed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces ciliegine (small mozzarella balls), patted dry and sliced in half
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 hot house cucumber, cubed
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place cubed baguette into a large bowl and sprinkle with thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and oregano. Gently toss together.
3. Drizzle oil over bread mixture and season with salt and pepper. Toss together until fully combined.
4. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet, in single layer (you may need two baking sheets) and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 to 7 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. (It’s okay if the croutons are still slightly soft when you pull them from the oven, they’ll crisp up eve more once cooled).
5. Set aside and allow croutons to cool completely.
6. In a large mixing bowl combine croutons, mozzarella, tomatoes, and cucumber and toss together. Set aside.
7. For the vinaigrette: Place shallot, garlic, brown sugar, and balsamic in a small bowl and whisk together. While whisking add oil, in a slow and steady drizzle, until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
8. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, pour vinaigrette over salad and toss together until well coated.
9. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
*Note: Adding the vinaigrette to the salad prior to serving won’t make your croutons soggy! This will just allow the flavors of the salad to marry together before you