Why, oh why, have I waited this long to try panzanella? In case you are unfamiliar, panzanella is bread salad that has Italian origins. It’s a very adaptable meal that is easily altered based on the ingredients you have around and what your taste buds fancy. I have seen lots of variations and they all sound pretty great but none had compelled enough to actually try it. When I saw this Greek version, it went onto the next week’s menu immediately. I have to say it more than exceeded my expectations. I wouldn’t exactly call it healthy since it is, after all, a bread salad and it uses a good deal of olive oil. However, it is a really great way to get a lot of vegetables into a meal. Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, red onion and olives – plus feta cheese! Yum yum. I thought this would be a meal that I really liked and Ben was indifferent to, but he was equally impressed. It does make a large quantity but I am so glad we didn’t halve it. I had it as leftovers for lunch and even though the bread was a bit soggy the second day, it still tasted fantastic. Now I’m super motivated to try more variations of panzanella. Bring it on!
My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!
For the salad:
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups French bread cubes (1 inch)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ red onion, sliced thin
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained (kalamatas would also be good if you like that sort of thing)
For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1¼ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
To prepare the salad, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the heat.
Combine the cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl. To make the vinaigrette, combine the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives, and bread cubes. Mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend (if you can wait that long!)