A true Panzanella is made with stale Italian bread, but croutons can be used in a pinch for a quick week night meal. It also calls for prosciutto, but I rarely have that on hand and have found that bacon works just as well for my family. Personally, I do not like olive oil so have substituted avocado oil and butter. You can also adjust the vegatable combinations to what you have on hand and/or your family’s taste palette. The key is the bread ratio to making this a true Panzanella salad.
At this time of year especially, I have plenty of homemade croutons for the Thanksgiving stuffing making this the perfect time to have this wonderful salad. **I use a combination of sourdough bread and hamburger buns. I tuck away in the freezer all the stale bread for several weeks/months before the holiday season just to have the versatility of flavors.
2 cups stale rustic Italian bread, torn into bite size pieces**
1/8 cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup torn romaine leaves
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 English cucumber, halved and sliced
1/2 pound grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Pepperoncinis, to taste (optional)
DRESSING also see alternate VINAIGRETTE BELOW
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons Golden Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Combine avocado oil and melted butter.
- Add bread pieces and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and toss again to mix.
- Arrange bread pieces in a single layer and toast in oven until crisp – about 30 minutes or so.
- In a large skillet brown bacon pieces in a single layer until browned and crisp. Drain. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk dressing ingredients together until emulsified. Set aside.
- While the bread is toasting prepare vegetables by washing and chopping.
- In a large salad bowl toss together the spinach, torn romaine, red onion, basil, tomato halves, mozzarella cheese, cooled bacon pieces and cooled toast pieces.
- Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.
- Serve immediately.
3 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (2 large limes)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1⁄2 cup avocado oil
fresh ground salt and black pepper, to taste
- Whisk together all the ingredients except for the avocado oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Slowly incorporate the oil into the bowl with a whisk until the mixture becomes emulsified.
- Season as necessary.