Italian Panzanella Salad

Italian panzanella

This salad! I can’t get enough of it. It’s all the best things summer has to offer. Fresh herbs, bright and ripe veggies, of course bread and the icing on the cake is mozzarella cheese!

This particular recipe I picked up in Italy this summer (June 2019). There was a total of 13 of us who rented a giant villa in Tuscany and to my delight the villa had a chef. To me, that meant a week long cooking workshop. The only hitch (albeit small but a hitch) was the chef only spoke Italian and a little Spanish, neither of which I know. We had some really good laughs but it wasn’t as difficult as one might think. Cooking is fairly visual so I simply had to really pay attention and watch, which was pretty easy, I wanted to learn everything!

I really hope you enjoy this authentic Italian Panzanella Salad. As you will see below it’s quite simple, therefore good quality, fresh, ripe ingredients are the key to making this salad amazing. Buon Appetito!


Ingredients

3 cups of fresh bread cut into cubes
1 or 2 very ripe tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 stalks of celery, chopped into small bite-size pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped into small bite-size pieces
3 cups of pesto - Garden Fresh Pesto recipe
1-1/2 cups of Mozzarella - optional, although I highly recommend it

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place the fresh bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, mix to coat the bread. Bake bread in oven for about 15 min, turning once half way thru. Bread should be crispy and like a crouton, but somewhat chewy. Remove from heat and drizzle about 1 cup of pesto over warm bread, toss to coat.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, red onion and mozzarella. Gently toss to combine. Pour about 1 cup of pesto over the mixture. Using a large spoon stir all the way down to the bottom of the mixture and keep stirring gently. Gradually add in more pesto until everything is nicely coated and to your liking. Taste and add salt or olive oil to your preference

Plate and serve within 15 minutes of making. Otherwise your nice crispy bread will get too mushy.