Panzanella is an Italian bread salad, which to me calling it a salad really doesn’t do it justice…. it is so much more than that! This recipe can easily be a main course because it’s wonderfully hearty and filling. I have learned that veggies used within Panzanella vary across Italy although you can almost guarantee tomatoes and cucumber to be incorporated. My recipe takes a bit of a rustic twist on the traditional salad, where I roast certain veggies and toast the bread for an added crunch factor. What I really love about this dish is that there are a handful of different veggies included such as bell peppers, Roma tomatoes and cucumbers. This creates the dish to be well versed when it comes to nutrition which is super important to me.
The bell peppers are a wonderful source of vitamin C, A and essential minerals. The tomatoes provide detoxifying antioxidants. They also contain lycopene which can contribute to keeping cholesterol levels low. It makes me happy to know that this dish is nutritious and contributing to a healthy lifestyle. In addition, the flavor pairing of warmly roasted sweet bell peppers and red onions paired with crunchy croutons drenched in olive oil is divine. Don’t even get me started on the creamy mozzarella and perfectly salted kalamata olives that give this dish an additional layer of beautiful flavor… I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think!
-3 bell peppers OR 9 mini bell peppers (red, orange & yellow)
-1 purple onion
-3 small Persian cucumbers
-4 small Roma tomatoes
-8 oz fresh mozzarella (Ciliegine works nicely)
-2 large handfuls fresh basil
-3 cloves garlic
-1/2 cup kalamata olives
-1/3 loaf of fresh french bread
-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-balsamic vinegar to taste
-salt & pepper to taste
*I like to use all organic, GMO free produce & ingredients*
Preheat your oven to 410 degrees fahrenheit.
While the oven is warming up, lets prep our veggies & ingredients. Have a large bowl at hand to place your veggies into. On a cutting board, chop your cucumber and tomatoes into bit sized squares. Place into bowl. Halve your mozzarella balls and olives and place into the bowl. Thinly slice up your fresh basil and add it into the same bowl. Set aside.
Now go ahead and mince up your garlic. Once minced, place your garlic into a separate small bowl and drizzle in your olive oil. This allows the garlic to infuse the oil prior to adding it to the salad. Set aside.
Clean your bell peppers ensuring all seeds and stems are removed. To do this, simply cut them in half and remove the seeds gently with your hands. I like to give mine a little rinse under cold water as well to help remove all seeds. Chop your bell peppers into bit sized squares and do the same with your red onion. On a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place your chopped peppers and red onion. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and move the veggie around with a spatula to ensure an even coat of oil on all pieces. Place into oven for 25-30 minutes until well roasted and golden brown.
On a separate sheet pan, line with parchment paper as well. Taking your fresh bread, cub into bite sized pieces and place onto the sheet pan. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on these as well, moving the cubes around with a spatula to ensure an even coat of oil on all cubes. Place into oven for 15 minutes until they have been well toasted, turning golden brown on the edges. Both veggies and bread can cook in the oven at 410 degrees fahrenheit at the same time.
Once both the veggies and your bread have been well roasted and toasted, remove them from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Once cooled, add the roasted veggies and toasted bread into the large bowl with your additional ingredients. Toss all ingredients together and add in your garlic infused olive oil. Toss about nicely to ensure all pieces are coated with that lovely infused oil.
Tip: You will notice the toasted bread really soaks up the olive oil. Feel free to add in a tad more oil to ensure a nice even coat on all ingredients!
Once well mixed, I like to drizzle on top a bit of balsamic vinegar. This really amplifies the natural flavors of the roasted veggies. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve either room temp or chilled!
Serves: 2 (with a little left over!)