What exactly is panzanella you ask? Well, it's basically a salad with lots of bread in it. Bread that has been toasted in a hot pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I know. Amazing, right? Some panzanella recipes I've seen don't ask you to toast the bread, instead suggesting you soak it. I prefer toasting the bread, because the way the warm ever-so-slightly crisped sourdough softens the feta just a bit is divine. Mixed with the flavorful summer veggies, it's perfection.
For this recipe we used sourdough from Duke's Bread, picked out by our very own pirate.
Any rustic bread would work just fine for the salad.
I first became acquainted with this carbo-loaded Italian treat in Ina Garten's cookbook "How Easy Is That?", but this version is much lazier easier. Who has time to seed cucumbers and whisk a dressing anyway?
The Perfect Greek Panzanella (Inspired by Ina's)
- olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced (yellow bell pepper is fine to use also)
- 1 1/2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes (we used a mixture of yellow and red cherry toms)
- small red onion thinly sliced
- medium cucumber, diced into cubes (leave some of the peel on)
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
- sourdough bread
- a block of good feta
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the 2 garlic cloves and let them cook about a minute or two. Don't let them brown. Add 3-4 cups of cubed sourdough bread to the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper. Toss and toss and toss around some more until the bread cubes are just starting to brown and crisp up, around 5 minutes or so.
In a large salad bowl add the bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and kalamata olives. Mix it up, yo! Next mix in your slightly crisped and warm garlic sourdough bread. Crumble as much feta as you like over the salad. Drizzle about 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over the salad (more or less depending on your taste). Squeeze the juice from half the lemon over the salad. Lastly, toss everything together. I like it best served while the bread is still warm, but you could leave it out and serve at room temperature.