Bread Salad sounds like an oxymoron. Yet somehow, despite its conflicting identity, I can’t think of a better way to start off a meal. This salad is chock-full of two of my favorite foods: bakery bread and leafy greens. The first time I ever made this salad, I had never heard of panzanella. I just happened to make way too many homemade croutons one day, and there was a disproportionate amount of salad leftover. The bowl was filled with delicious vinaigrette and a few veggies. I felt odd slurping up the remaining dressing, so I dumped the croutons in, and voila! I created a masterpiece (or so I thought).
It turns out that bread salad (or "panzanella") has been enjoyed for centuries. Leave it to the Italians to have figured this one out. Much to my disappointment, I was not the first to discover that using day-old bread to soak up the rich flavors of herb vinaigrette is delicious and positively addicting.
I had told Jackie this story several times before she actually tasted my Panzanella. She always smiled kindly and dismissed me, but I knew she would fall in love with this salad just as I had. It is an excellent way to use up leftover veggies and bread from last night's dinner. It couldn't be easier to make, and it tastes amazing. I may not been the first one to make this yummy salad, but I have perfected my own "Americanized" recipe. My family loves it and so will you.
A great way to use up that day-old bread. This hearty salad perfect by itself or as a side dish to a light pasta entree.
- 3 Cups day-old bread, diced into ½" cubes
- ¾ C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ C White Balsamic Vinegar
- ¼ C diced Red Pepper
- Juice from ½ Lemon
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 Cup diced cucumber
- 2 Cups arugula or your favorite greens
- Mince garlic and place in large mixing bowl
- Add juice of ½ Lemon and Balsamic Vinegar.
- With the back of a spoon slowly smash garlic into side of bowl and allow to set for 5 minutes
- While whisking quickly, slowly drizzle olive oil into vinegar mixture.
- Toss Bread cubes into mixture until well coated.
- Add remaining vegetables and toss to coat vegetables with Oil.
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- This salad tastes best if you allow to set at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.