With the warm weather finally upon us, my cravings have shifted to lighter and fresher foods as opposed to the heavier sauce laden meals of winter. Salads made with fresh corn, tomatoes, and cucumber for example. And the herbs! Freshly snipped from my container garden. A while back I posted this recipe for panzanella salad, but with everyone planning outdoor parties, I thought this would be a good time to share it once again for all my new followers. It’s definitely been a favorite around here.
Panzanella salad is a bread salad that is traditionally Italian. But, what can I say? I have to put my spin on it and Greekify it. We can say it’s a fusion of sorts—like my family. My husband is Italian so this salad has a bit of both our culinary cultures.
Buon Appetito & Kali Orexi
Greek Panzanella Salad
4 – 5 large tomatoes cut in thick slices
2 cucumbers cut in chunks or thick slices
1 small red onion thinly sliced
2 red, yellow or orange peppers cut in chunks
1 round Tuscan bread with crusts removed and cut into 1-1/2 cubes
1 pound slab of feta cheese
1 cup basil leaves
(Fresh dill, chives and parsley may be added also)
Heat a large skillet and coat with olive oil. Add the bread cubes, constantly turning as each side browns. This can be done a day ahead.
Cut up all the vegetables and place in a very large mixing bowl. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, tossing until coated. Add salt and pepper to taste, a teaspoon of sugar and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Mix well. Add the basil and any other fresh herbs you like. I always add oregano, but I also add fresh dill, chives or parsley if I have it on hand. Break the feta into chunks and add to the salad. Add the toasted bread cubes. Toss to coat. Transfer into a large salad bowl. There should be little or no excess dressing left in mixing bowl. If you would like to make the dressing ahead, I recommend mixing the fresh herbs in with the vegetables, not the dressing. If you only have dried herbs on hand you can add the herbs to the dressing. Below is a Greek salad dressing using dried herbs.
Greek Salad Dressing
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves crushed garlic
Combine all ingredients and whisk well, shake in a cruet or emulsify in a blender. Drizzle over salad, mixing and tossing to coat. Do not overdress. You will not use all the dressing. Keep in the fridge for later use.