This Summer Panzanella Salad has all the flavors of a BLT for a super tasty, light weeknight meal. It’s great for summer picnics & BBQs too!!
This is one of my very first food blog posts that was originally published back in August of 2013. I wanted to update it as I was brand new to blogging when I first wrote it and I didn’t even include any photos in the first version! This beautiful Summer Panzanella salad, with it’s BLT flavors, definitely deserves a few photos!
So what exactly is a Panzanella Salad? Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that was created as a way to use up crusty bread that has gotten stale, as well as celebrate the bounty of summer tomatoes. The juice from the tomatoes and the dressing bring new life to the slightly stale bread.
Salads are always one of my favorite things to eat in the summer and I love to come up with new variations on things I’ve made before. This particular salad happened quite by accident due to a head of lettuce that had gone bad!
I had intended to make an Italian-inspired chopped salad for our 4th of July BBQ, however, when I went to pull the ingredients out we realized the lettuce had started to turn. So without the lettuce, I had to improvise. I threw all the other ingredients together thinking maybe we’d just have a salad without lettuce and then realized I really needed some substance to replace the lettuce, so I cut up a nice loaf of sourdough that I happened to have on hand, toasted it up in the oven and added the toasted bread cubes to the mix. The result turned into the extremely tasty summer Panzanella salad, which I still make all the time!!
This is a great example of the kind of recipe that’s fun to experiment with, which is exactly what I’ve done a number of times. One time last summer when I made it I’d been to the Green City Farmers Market earlier in the day so for the bread I used a great Jalapeno cheddar sourdough from Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, Illinois. I also used some vine tomatoes that I got at the market, which were absolutely delicious!
If you love Panzanella salad check out this fall version I made with butternut squash – delicious! If you come up with a great variation I’d love to hear about it; drop me a note in the comment to let me know!
Summer Panzanella Salad
This Summer Panzanella Salad has all the flavors of a BLT for a super tasty, light weeknight meal. It's great for summer picnics & BBQs too!!
- 6 cups sourdough bread, cut into 1" cubes (this is about 2/3 of a loaf)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 12 - 14 baby carrots, chopped
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into half
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 3/4 tsp Coleman's or other dried mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp minced shallot
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 4 green onions, chopped
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Place bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Stir to coat. Toast for 15 - 20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
- While the cubes are baking combine beans, carrots, mozzarella, tomatoes and blue cheese in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the mustard, shallot, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, pepper, salt and sugar. Mix well. Add the vinegars and stir to combine. Whisk in the olive oil until blended.
- Once the bread cubes are cool add them to the bowl with the veggies and mix well. Slowly pour the dressing over the salad and toss until everything is well coated. Place the salad in the refrigerator and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Just before serving top with bacon, avocado and green onion.
Updated May 2017. Originally published August 2013.