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Grossy's Guide to the Panzanella Salad

Honestly, a panzanella salad is just bread in salad drag. There is no other way to put it, but there are endless ways to make it. Delicious crispy croutons perfectly outfitted with your favorite vegetables (traditionally tomatoes, plus anything else you love) and herbs, soaked in a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing, and topped with the cheese of your choice.

"We are all born naked, the rest is just bread in drag." — RuPaul


This recipe is more so a GUIDE rather than a step-by-step. It's a "choose your own adventure" situation, and along the way, I'll clue you into my favorite ways to panzanella.

There are 5 essential elements to a panzanella salad:

1. Croutons

Big chunks of crusty (sometimes near stale) bread, that I like to toss in olive oil and roast for extra crunch

2. Fresh or Roasted Vegetables

Fresh tomatoes are the traditional choice here, often joined by cucumbers and onions. But I see no limit to the options of fresh or roasted vegetables in a panzanella salad, making it a year-round go-to of mine.

3. Fresh Salad Greens and Herbs

Extra flavor, extra crunch.

4. Cheese

Big chunks of cheese add a softness and saltiness to the, well, already soft and salty panzanella. I love a mozzarella or a feta here, but you can do no wrong.

5. Vinaigrette Dressing,

The croutons and the veg get soaked in this dressing, and I like to keep it really simple: Just oil and Vinegar. But if you are looking for more substantial options, here are 3 of my faves:

Garlicky Oregano Dressing

Garlicky Citrus Dressing

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

NOW...Make it step-by-step with me below:

1. Grab your favorite loaf of bread. This is mine: a sourdough loaf from She Wolf Bakery.

2. I typically use the entire loaf, but it's up to you! I live by the rule that more is more, though.

3. Cut your loaf into approximately 1" square cubes.

4. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if you want some heat) to coat the bread. Get your hands into the bowl and work the oil and seasoning into the bread.

5. Place bread on a baking sheet. I like to line mine with parchment. Foil works, too but so does just a pan with no lining.

6. Bake your bread at 400º until nice and crisp. You can go as dark and crispy as you want here. Croutons can be baked same day or the day before. I like to let the croutons cool before I add them to the salad as it really helps the veggies and cheese not only survive but thrive when the bread isn't too hot!

7. Now we choose our vegetables, herbs, and cheese. When I tell you any combo works in a panzanella, I mean it. This salad is a great excuse to use whatever fresh and amazing produce you have laying around. Ask yourself what herbs you love and what your favorite cheese is and just follow your heart, honey.

In the photo above, I have baby kale, heirloom tomatoes, fresh parsley, and mozzarella balls (note: cubes of feta cheese are a frequent substitute for my panzanella).

While fresh is best, I LOVE to roast vegetables (onions, carrots, brussels sprouts, what-have-you), let them cool, then add them to a panzanella. So delicious.

8. Next we choose our dressing. A simple vinaigrette is all you need; truly, oil and vinegar will do you just perfectly. I always mix it in the bottom of a big bowl, throw my ingredients in, and get my hands all dressed up by mixing it.

Pictured above is my honey mustard vinaigrette. Recipe is below:

  • cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard

  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together until combined.

Garlicky Citrus Dressing and Garlicky Oregano Dressing are also excellent dressing options here.

9. Toss your veggies and herbs into the bowl on top of the dressing.

10. Add croutons to the bowl.

11. Use your hands to evenly mix the dressing into your veggies. Let them soak and soften a bit. Allow the juices to release from the tomatoes...

12. Grab your favorite tray. Obsessively arrange your greens, herbs, veggies, and croutons until on brand. Statement bracelets help but are not necessary.

13. Snuggle your cheese into your perfect panzanella composition and top everything off with extra salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

14. A perfect panzanella!!!! No one will ever know it's just bread in salad drag. Enjoy!


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