I had the most amazing lunch today! It was so delicious that I knew immediately I had to share it with you guys ASAP! Part of the fun was picking the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil fresh from my vegetable garden (warm from the sun, mind you). But this salad would be just as good if you get your ingredients from the farmer’s market or your local grocery store — just try to buy the freshest vegetables you can find. The idea for this salad all started because I had half a leftover baguette from dinner last night and as I was grilling up the bread to make homemade croutons, the Panzanella Salad idea came to mind! Every bite was a sigh of yuuummmm….so much so I’m making it again tomorrow!!
Start by making the vinaigrette dressing: see my recipe under the Salads and Dressings category. Once made, set aside. Next it’s time to make the crusty bread. See my recipe for Homemade Croutons under the Condiments section for instructions. (How useful is this blog?) When the bread is grilled to perfection, set aside. Lastly, slice and dice your vegetables and basil and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the crusty croutons and give everything a good stir.
Slowly pour the vinaigrette dressing over the salad and toss. Let the salad sit for a few minutes before serving so the bread soaks up some of that delicious vinaigrette dressing you just made.
Serve individual plates garnished with basil sprigs for a nice added touch!!
[As a side — I like to add fresh mozzarella to this salad. It’s not a traditional Panzanella but so what!! Other interesting ideas you can add to this salad are capers, red or green peppers, feta cheese, or olives.]
2 cups or so crusty croutons (see my recipe for Homemade Croutons in Condiments category)
20-25 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (more as a garnish if desired)
½ English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup vinaigrette dressing (see my recipe for Vinaigrette Dressing in Salads and Dressings section)
Optional: fresh baby mozzarella balls, sliced in half (or any other add in you desire)
Makes roughly four servings