Panzanella Summer Salad

Panzanella Summer Salad

This recipe, from La Bella Vita cookbook, is one of my summer favorites. Traditionally, panzanella is made with leftover bread that has dried out, been soaked in water to rehydrate it, and then squeezed of its liquid. I prefer the extra flavor, crunch, and texture you get from using focaccia croutons. As a nice variety or heartier meal, you can add chicken or grilled shrimp.



½ loaf Bella Cucina Focaccia (1 cup croutons, cut into very small croutons)
1 cup diced English cucumber
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup sliced radishes
1 cup olives pitted and cut into halves
{any combination of Italian or kalamata olive varietals}
1 jar Bella Cucina Piccolo Pomodoro
1 cup heirloom tomatoes {I like a nice variety of grape or pear tomatoes cut in half as well as larger tomatoes cut into a large dice}.
1/2 cup torn fresh milk mozzarella pieces
6-8 torn fresh basil leaves
½ cup red wine vinegar {for a sweeter dressing, use less vinegar}
1 tbsp. Bella Cucina Wild Oregano & Sage Salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Bella Cucina Extra Virgin Olive Oil


To Make Foccacia Croutons:
Cut an 4X8 piece of focaccia in half as if you were going to make a sandwich. Cut both halves into 1/4 inch cubes. Bake in 350 degree oven just until golden brown {about 10-12 minutes}. Since foccacia is typically made with olive oil, you won’t need to add anymore before baking. Let cool and store in a cool dry place until ready to use. You can bake these ahead.
To make vinaigrette:
Whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil until emulsified.

Toss all salad ingredients just until combined. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss until all ingredients are coated. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until vinaigrette is absorbed and croutons begin to soften.

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