Panzanella aka summer’s best salad

This is the perfect summer salad.  Quick, easy, ridiculously good and a great use of all those fresh summer veggies.

Notes: If possible buy the ciabatta the night before, cut it into 1 inch cubes and leave it out to dry.  If you don’t do this, it’s not a crisis.  Some recipes say to cut the crust off, I didn’t and loved the extra bit of heft it brought to the salad.
– You must use a dense bread. The salad will be soggy otherwise.
– It doesn’t matter what size you chop the ingredients just make sure they are uniform.  I used 1 inch chunks and that seemed a good size to prevent the salad from becoming mushy.
– Do not let this salad sit, once dressed, for more than an hour before serving.
– mozzarella cubes and salami would make great add-ins


  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 loaf ciabatta, I used LaFarm bread purchased from Whole Foods
2 tsp. dried rosemary
3 oz. Kalamata olives, quartered (purchased from the Kroger olive bar)
1 oz roasted garlic, quartered or roughly chopped (purchased from the Kroger olive bar)
2 whole roasted red peppers, drained, then roughly chopped (Kroger olive bar)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into quarters and chopped
20 large basil leaves, rolled like a cigar and thinly sliced
1-1/2 lbs of tomatoes, chopped and placed into a strainer to drain
1/8 c. capers, drained

1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2/3 c. olive oil

1) Slice the ciabatta into uniform 1-inch chunks and toss onto a baking sheet.  Drizzle the chunks liberally with about 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt and sprinkle with the dried rosemary.  Stir to distribute the oil and bake at 375 for 5 min.  Stir, drizzle with a bit more oil and crisp for 5 more min.  You want the cubes to still have a bit of breadiness so you’re not going for crouton-crisp.  Remove from the oven and allow the cubes to cool. IMG_0587
2) Into a large bowl add the ingredients from olives through capers. IMG_0589
3) Combine red wine vinegar and oil to make the dressing.
4) Toss the bread cubes on top of the vegetables, drizzle half the dressing over.  Toss to combine and pour in the rest of the dressing.  It looks like a lot of dressing but the bread drinks it up.  I also stirred occasionally throughout the hour to make sure the bread got a good soak.  The salad was ready to eat after about 45 min.

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