If you haven’t had panzanella before, it’s time to remedy that, friend. A salad that celebrates fresh, seasonal veggies, bold tangy flavours, and the crouton – there’s so much to love here.
My local health food store sells these loaves of spelt sourdough baked on a local farm in a wood oven – it’s as amazing as that sounds. Each loaf, however, is larger than the average human head, so making use of every last crumb of the bread is a bit of an undertaking. Enter this panzanella recipe, where day-old bread that is toasted in olive oil soaks up the dressing to become both chewy and crunchy, the perfect complement to fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and basil. The dressing is simplified version of this great recipe from Nutrition Stripped (basically I just left the garlic out because I wasn’t feeling raw garlic here), which is tangy, fresh, and very summer-evening appropriate. The salad comes together easily and quickly, but is impressive for its flavours (fresh herbs, lemon, summer produce, tangy sourdough) and texture (crunch from the bread and lettuce, buttery pine nuts, little salty pops of capers).
I’m on a bit of a simplification mission this summer, which has translated food-wise into more CSA-veggie-using salads, fewer gratuitous baking projects (read: layer cakes without a reason other than ‘because: cake’). In turn this means posting less and more savory projects on the site here, and I hope no one minds the slight change of tone for the summer-of-simpler.
- 6 cups lettuce
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into strips
- 2-3 cups cherry/any small tomatoes, chopped in half if needed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 tbsp capers
- 3 cups sourdough bread, cubed (day old is ideal)
- drizzle olive oil + salt + pepper
- 1 shallot
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (I used whole grain, whole or smooth both work)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss bread cubes in olive oil and season with pinches of salt and pepper. Toast for approximately 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until cubes are golden and crunchy. Let cool.
- To prepare the dressing, mince the shallot and place in a jar with salt for a few minutes (this makes the shallot slightly sweeter, and is an optional step). Add remaining ingredients and shake the jar to emulsify. The dressing will separate as it sits, so stir or shake as needed.
- Combine all the remaining salad ingredients, then top with cooled bread. Drizzle on dressing. Let sit for a few minutes before serving so the bread starts to soak in the dressing.