In the summertime, I find that I crave heavy foods less, for the most part. I love light, fresh things, and lots of them. From fruit salads to smoothies, to bruschetta on toast, to this delicious, light Panzanella salad.
I’ve adapted this a teeny, tiny little bit from Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman. You can find her original recipe here.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that’s traditionally made with anchovies, chopped vegetables, and bread soaked in dressing. But around my parts, ain’t nobody got time for anchovies, so we’re skipping that part.
What you don’t want to skip is making sure you’ve got a really crusty loaf of bread. I used boule bread. The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 275 degrees, then cut up the bread into bite-size chunks.
Meanwhile, prep your veggies. The PW recipe uses an English cucumber, a few heirloom tomatoes, and half a red onion. I used a regular cucumber, a package of cherry tomatoes, 2/3 a bag of carrot chips, and half a red onion. I added the carrot chips because I’m sort of merging this salad with a salad that my husband and I had at a friend’s house for dinner one night; it was tons of fresh veggies tossed with Italian dressing and topped with chunky feta. I die. Anyway, back to Tuscany. Chop the cuke and the onion and put all the veggies into a big bowl.
When the bread is done, let it cool a bit and then pour them into the bowl with the veggies. Mix a quarter-cup of olive oil, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, some salt and pepper to taste and drizzle on top.
Take about 15-25 basil leaves, stack them, and roll them up into a tight bundle. Then chiffonade.
Sprinkle the basil on top, then add some Parmesan shavings and some grated Parmesan if you want (I used a potato peeler for the Parmesan brick. I also added a LOT of cheese, because, well. I love it.) and give it another toss.
Now comes the hard part; put the lid on and wait for a couple hours! Leaving the salad to sit at room temperature for a bit will let the bread soak in the flavor of the veggies and dressing and make it extra yummy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving. I also like to add feta to my serving – delicious!
By the way – don’t worry about the bread becoming soggy. That’s the purpose of using “stale” or lightly toasted bread. It soaks in the moisture of the vegetables and dressing and retains the flavor but doesn’t get soggy and gross.
Needless to say, I will be eating this all summer long!
If you make this, let me know how it turned out and if you love it in the comment section below!