This past weekend we had a church picnic.  The weather turned super cold and rainy here in Texas, so we ended up having it indoors…not ideal, but we still had a lot of fun.  I mean, who plans on it being fifty degrees in May?

Anyway, my job was to bring a side dish, and I made Panzanella.  Panza-what?  I know, it’s a crazy name.  In fact, my sweet and very well-educated husband claimed I made it up.  No, I assure you, Panzanella is a real thing, originating in Italy as a way to use up old stale bread.  I don’t know why I wanted to make it.  I’ve passed over the recipe a hundred times before and not felt an inkling of inspiration.  But this weekend I had to make it.  And, boy, was I glad I did.  Huge crusty chunks of bread.  Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and red onion.  Feta.  All tossed in a red wine vinaigrette.  Was there real life before Panzanella?  You decide.  The combination of flavors turned out to be so delicious that a grown man {and friend} threatened to slap me on account of it being so tasty.  He didn’t.

I don’t have any fancy photos of how to make this.  But, no fear…it’s very simple.  The most complicated part is sauteing the huge cubes of bread in olive oil {salivate}.  Just make sure you let the bread get nice and toasty, adding more olive oil if necessary to the pan, and season them well with salt and pepper.  I also found that it works best to let the bread cubes cool completely and become crusty before you toss it with the vinaigrette.  ”Soggy” and “Panzenella” are two words that should not be used together.

Here is a picture I found online of the finished product:

I think you will find, like I did, that summer just became a whole lot more exciting now that Panzanella is in the picture.  Click below to download a printable copy of the recipe, and enjoy!



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3 Responses to Panzanella

  1. Charlotte says:

    So, can the bread be made a day ahead of time and stored in a ziplock? I’m making it for two occasions back to back next week, and thought it would be easier to double the bread the first night and store half. Thoughts?

    • katherine says:

      Great question! I think the answer is yes, the bread can be made in advance, although I’ve never tested it out. Make sure you let the bread cubes cool completely before you store them, otherwise they will get soggy. And, since crispier is better, I would think you don’t need to store them in a super-air-tight container. Just cover them loosely. Most important thing to consider when making Panzanella in advance is to wait until the very last minute to add the bread to the rest of the salad. Let me know how it goes!

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