Panzanella literally means “bread salad” in Italian.
How could that be anything but amazing?
If you love bread and veggies as much as I do, then this hearty Panzanella is the dish for you. It comes together so quickly, and is the perfect simple and refreshing salad as we say hello to summer!
I decided to make this more of a one-pot meal than a side dish by adding chickpeas and red kidney beans. This strays from the traditional Panzanella of bread and veggies, but I am telling you, the addition of the beans here is fabulous!
And if we are eating beans, can’t we feel better about consuming a salad that is at least 50% composed of bread?
Use a really sturdy bread here, as the bread will continue to soak up the flavors and juices of the veggies, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar the longer the salad sits. This is a good thing! You just need a bread that can retain its bite and shape amidst all that yummy liquid. Ciabatta works great, and that is my bread of choice for Panzanella.
Also, the parmesan is the only thing here keeping this salad from being vegan. Feel free to leave out the parmesan if you want this to be a vegan meal. Otherwise, go grate some parmesan! You know how I feel about using freshly grated cheese.
The largest setting on a standard box cheese grater works great here, or, be a little fancy and use a cheese plane to make beautiful, thin slivers. I first discovered how much using a cheese plan enhances the flavor of any cheese when we found The Cheese Shop in Carmel while celebrating Doris Day’s birthday. Don’t ask me why, but cheese is literally more flavorful when sliced thinly! And a good cheese plane makes all the difference. Here is my favorite.
So make this Panzanella salad, grab a bottle of San Pellegrino and a blanket, and enjoy this perfect summer picnic lunch!
Hearty Panzanella Salad
For the bread:
- 5 cups bread, cubed to 1 inch pieces (I like to use Ciabatta)
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the rest of the salad:
- 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained
- 1 15oz can red kidney beans, drained
- 16 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
½ or 1English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced (use more or less according to preference)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ small red onion, sliced into thin rings, then cut the rings in half
- ¼ cup basil, chiffonade (use more or less according to preference)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup parmesan, freshly grated or slivered with a cheese plane
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
Make the croutons
- Make the croutons by tossing the bread, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and olive oil together in a large mixing bowl.
- Spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Toss the bread so a different side of each cube touches the pan, and bake for another 5 minutes. Croutons are done!
Prepare the beans and the veggies
- In the same bowl that you tossed your bread it (why not save a dish?!) add the chickpeas, red kidney beans, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, red onion, basil, and salt. Toss to combine.
Add the seasonings
- Now drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan over the beans and veggies. Toss.
Add the croutons
- Add about half of the croutons to the bowl and toss. Once the first half of the croutons have incorporated into the salad, add the remaining half.
- Toss until everything is evenly distributed, and the croutons begin to soak up some of the balsamic, olive oil, and veggie juices.
Let flavors mesh, then serve and enjoy!
- Let the Panzanella salad sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors mesh and develop, then taste. Add more lemon juice, salt, or balsamic if desired, and serve! This is a great meal on its own, or with a side of Gardein.