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Panzanella

The list of recipes I’d like to make is never ending.  I actually have a written list of things to make.  I wrote it out before I started this blog.  I’ve added to it as time has gone on.  It just gets longer and longer and fewer things seem to get crossed off.
Panzanella has been on the list since the beginning.  I’ve set out to make three or four times, but something has always gotten in the way.

Panzanella dates back to the 1600’s, originating in Tuscany.  It’s most pure form is much simpler than I have made here.  Most versions today have been beefed up, so to speak.  Mine is definitely pumped up from the true classic version.

We are at the height of asparagus season and I seem to have it coming out of my ears.  Before I made this dish, I kid you not, I had thirteen bunches in my refrigerator.  So look for several posts using asparagus in the next little bit.

A few notes about my version, I didn’t have day old bread.  I had week-old bread, which was far too stale or freshly baked bread.  I opted to take my freshly baked bread and make it “day old” bread by drying it slightly in the oven.  We have two bread vendors at the Farmer’s Market, and one of them had the exact bread I needed, Tuscan White, which has a very, very mild sourdough taste to it. Bread that is 1-3 days old is best.  Also this is generally a raw dish, but I did a quick sauté of the asparagus to soften it.

Panzanella ~ The classic Tuscan bread salad updated with seasonally fresh asparagus in a mildly tangy balsamic dressing ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Panzanella ~ The classic Tuscan bread salad updated with seasonally fresh asparagus in a mildly tangy balsamic dressing ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda
Panzanella ~ The classic Tuscan bread salad updated with seasonally fresh asparagus in a mildly tangy balsamic dressing ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Panzanella ~ The classic Tuscan bread salad updated with seasonally fresh asparagus in a mildly tangy balsamic dressing ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Panzanella ~ The classic Tuscan bread salad updated with seasonally fresh asparagus in a mildly tangy balsamic dressing ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Panzanella

Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Asparagus, balsamic, bread, feta cheese
Author: Michelle De La Cerda

The classic Tuscan bread salad updated with seasonally fresh asparagus in a mildly tangy balsamic dressing. 

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Ingredients

  • 5 cups cubed Tuscan white bread
  • 1 lb . asparagus; woody ends trimmed , and sliced in half
  • 1 small red onion; sliced
  • 12 oz . cherry tomatoes; halved
  • 2 red bell peppers; sliced
  • 18 basil leaves; chopped
  • 4 oz . feta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic; grated/minced
  • Just less than 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt/pepper to taste;
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a thick-bottomed sauté pan, heat a tablespoon or two of the olive oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Once the oil is heated, add the asparagus.
  3. Sauté the asparagus, stirring occasionally, for 6-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks.
  4. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  5. While the asparagus is cooling, prep the rest of the dish.
  6. In a very large mixing bowl, add the bread (see directions below on how to dry the bread if using a fresh loaf), halved tomatoes, sliced onions and peppers, feta cheese, garlic, and basil.
  7. Toss the ingredients well.
  8. In a smaller bowl, add the olive oil, both vinegars, and the salt and pepper.
  9. Whisk it together quickly. Once it is blended, quickly pour half of it over the salad.
  10. Toss the salad together well.
  11. Whisk the remaining half again if needed and pour the remaining it over the salad and continue to toss until the entire salad is coated in the dressing.
  12. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

To turn fresh bread into day old bread

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°.
  2. Cube the bread into 1” pieces.
  3. Place the cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  4. Once the oven is fully heated, place the baking tray in the oven and then turn the oven off.
  5. Allow the bread to sit in the heated, but now cooling oven for 10-15 minutes or until they feel dried out.
  6. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Panzanella ~ The Complete Savorist

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Glyn
    June 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Looks fabulous! It’s one of those recipes that make you really grateful for summer evenings. Glyn

    • Reply
      Michelle
      June 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you Glyn! It was such a summer-fresh salad. I loved it.

  • Reply
    Renee @ CreativeMamaMessyHouse
    June 10, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Looking forward to trying this for Father’s Day! I will *try* to stick to your recipe, but the veggies I use will be highly dependent on what is available at the Farmer’s Market!

    • Reply
      Michelle
      June 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Renee, From one cook to another, sticking to a recipe is next to impossible. It’s the spirit of the matter! Thank you for wanting to try it.

  • Reply
    Terri S
    June 18, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    This looks so good. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Shannon
    June 22, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    This looks lovely! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Reply
      Michelle
      June 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Shannon, it was so fresh (even with old bread). Perfect addition to any meal.

  • Reply
    Marye
    January 6, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Panzanella is one of my favorites… the addition of asparagus is brilliant!

  • Reply
    Dan from Platter Talk
    January 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm


    Stellar job with this amazing looking dish!

  • Reply
    Mary Bostow
    January 6, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous! The colors along would make you love it!

  • Reply
    Jenny.U
    January 7, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Is it summer yet so I can use my fresh garden veggies?!

  • Reply
    Michelle @ Giraffes Can Bake
    July 22, 2015 at 7:21 am

    I have a list of things I want to make too, and it just seems to grow and grow without ever getting any shorter!
    This panzanella looks delicious, I’m glad you got around to making it and sharing it with us 🙂

    • Reply
      Michelle
      July 22, 2015 at 11:51 am

      The list…..forever…..LONG.

  • Reply
    Hirra Pervaiz
    July 23, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Looks so colorful and delicious, I’m pinning this would love to make it 🙂

    • Reply
      Michelle
      July 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Thank you so much, hope you get the chance to enjoy it.

  • Reply
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life
    July 23, 2015 at 7:55 am

    I love panzanella! Your version looks delicious, Michelle! Definitely trying it!

    • Reply
      Michelle
      July 23, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Thank you so much Michelle.

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