Panzanella with Everyday Vinaigrette

by Jen on August 13, 2012

Those Italians – they cannot bare staying away from their carbs, can they? Well, I’m glad! Because aside from my other favourite Italian carbs, which is pasta; bread is the other one I can’t live without. And somehow, the Italians have a way with both!

One day, panzanella, – an Italian bread salad thought to have originated from Florence – just kept jumping out at me. In Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Everyday Cookbook,” in “The Silver Spoon” cookbook, in Giada de Laurentiis’ Food Network show, in my old photos of Florence where I feasted on them one long, hot summer

After these mysterious hints were left all over for me like crumbs (and I always pick up the crumbs), I decided it was time! Time to fire up the barbecue and grill some crusty old bread that will eventually end up in a big crouton salad!

Lo and behold, that salad turned out to be real fine! Sure, it’s just a humble bread salad, but let me tell you, each crunchy-chewy-sweet-and-sour bite sent me spinning faster like a whirling Dervish. Why don’t I make this more often?

True, by adding sunflower seeds, edible flowers, and all sorts of frills for the vinaigrette, the Italians might curse me for changing up their traditional formula of stale bread-onions-tomatoes-oil-and-vinegar that had worked so well for centuries . I apologize for the divergence; however, I absolutely cannot apologize for how good this looks and tastes! Buon appetito!


5.0 from 7 reviews
Panzanella with Everyday Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 sourdough boule, sliced thickly
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced
  • 1½ cups grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds (optional - not traditional but nice to have)
  • Everyday vinaigrette* (recipe under Notes)
  • a pinch or two of Maldon sea salt flakes
  • a handful of edible flowers (optional - not traditional but nice to have)
Instructions
  1. Use a day-old sourdough boule or any crusty bread or baguette and slice them across in ¾-inch thick.
  2. Brush the sliced bread with good-quality extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium or 325 degrees F. Brush the grill with olive oil.
  4. When grill is hot, place the prepared bread slices, and cook until they develop a crunchy exterior, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on your grill.
  5. Remove from heat and slice right away into small square pieces.
  6. Set aside on a large salad bowl.
  7. Meanwhile, slice a red onion lengthwise and lay it flat down the sliced side.
  8. Start finely cutting into thin crescents. Toss into the bowl of bread.
  9. Add the grape tomatoes to the bowl of bread, but if you prefer, you can also slice the tomatoes across in half.
  10. Toss in the (optional) raw sunflower seeds.
  11. Start adding your vinaigrette by the tablespoonful. Toss the salad until each bread cube is coated in the dressing, tasting and seasoning along the way. Add edible flowers, if using.
Notes
Everyday Vinaigrette 1 cup sunflower, canola, peanut, or grapeseed oil ¼ cup red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 garlic cloves, smashed 1 tablespoon honey a pinch of paprika or cayenne Directions: In a bowl, whisk vigorously all the ingredients above, until emulsified. Transfer to a mason jar or any salad bottle wherein you can shake the vinaigrette when ready to use. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef August 13, 2012 at 2:08 am

Jen, this is the most beautiful salad. Anyone would feel honored to have this served to them. I know I sure would!

Reply

Raymund August 13, 2012 at 4:13 am

What are those berry like fruits that are clumped together?

Reply

Jen August 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

Raymund, they are golden currants :) They are usually too tart to eat on their own, but great as an addition to baked goods where cranberries are called for.

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Nami | Just One Cookbook August 15, 2012 at 1:11 am

Thanks for asking Raymund! I had currants scone this past weekend, but never paid attention how their fruit look like. So these are it! But I guess there are different colors as mine was like blue-berry color.. it was yummy in scone!

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Jen @ Savory Simple August 13, 2012 at 8:01 am

The edible flowers make this salad look so elegant!

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A Canadian Foodie August 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

Now, it is hard to believe that this gorgeous salad tastes so good! ROTFL!!! What a brilliant presentation – stunning and I can literally taste the tart notes buffered by the once crusty bread soaked in the dressing.
YUM!
:)
V

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Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic August 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

This is the prettiest pansanella I’ve ever seen! And yes, carbs, yummmmm.

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Sandra's Easy Cooking August 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

You sure made something so simple look outstanding. I love this, Jen! AMAZING pictures…
Have a wonderful Monday and week ahead!

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) August 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I am such a “bread girl” and I love your nontradtional panzanella. Bring it on, I say! :)

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Patty August 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

So pretty! I can’t think of a better way to use bread-just love all the lovely touches, like the edible flowers, you’ve added to your salad:-)

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Choc Chip Uru August 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Your panzanella must taste delicious and is also a feast for the eyes because of the presentation :D

Cheers
CCU

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Eha August 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm

An absolutely beautifully presented salad with those violas & miniature stocks decorating! I know the ‘golden’ currants as ‘white currants’ [white, red, black!] from my childhoood in Estonia, and I find them absolutely one of the most delightful late summer fruits to have – we always grabbed the white ones if possible :) ! [They were the largest of the three also: greedy gutzers!]

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Jennifer @ Delicieux August 14, 2012 at 5:10 am

Jen, this looks fantastic! I’m a bread lover too, so I know I’d love this. I love your little touches with the flowers too. Gorgeous!

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Lisa (AuthenticSuburbanGourmet) August 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I love a great panzanella salad and yours looks and sounds absolutely divine! I too love the carbs but can’t love too many times per week. :-) Lovely photos!!!!

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marla August 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

This is so vibrant and beautiful!

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Nami | Just One Cookbook August 15, 2012 at 1:12 am

Gorgeous salad. I’ll take BREAD salad any time of the day. Crunchy and looks so delicious!! You and Weng have beautiful way to present food with flowers. Looks like restaurant meal!

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Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking August 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm

The salad is just gorgeous Jen! I love panzanella salad (coming from a bread addict it’s pretty obvious) and your edible flowers are so beautiful.

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Cass @foodmyfriend August 16, 2012 at 1:22 am

Your pictures are so damn beautiful. Loving the colour here. This salad is a person fav. Such a good way to cut down on bread for lunch – opposed to a sandwich of course!

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joey August 16, 2012 at 6:04 am

That salad looks almost too gorgeous to eat! *Almost*…because I would definitely eat this! I don’t know what’s taking me so long to make a panzanella…I love bread!

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kristy @ the wicked noodle August 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

Can this salad be any more gorgeous?!! Good lord, how on earth did you do that? Pinning immediately!

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Riley August 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Where would we be without those Italians? I love a good panzanella salad and this looks so fresh and delicious!

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Jean | Lemons and Anchovies August 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

“a big crouton salad” — so true and so good! You’ve made a simple panzanella look very beautiful!

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Lora @cakeduchess August 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm

As an Italian, I can attest that we do have a way with pasta and bread…your post made me giggle;)Your creative riff on panzanella looks delizioso and almost too pretty to put a fork into:)Love the edible flowers.

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amy @ fearless homemaker August 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Your plating is always so gorgeous + this is no exception! What a lovely-looking salad. I love the humble-yet-delicious bread salad + yours looks absolutely delicious. And a great use of the local tomatoes that are still fresh + in season in my area (+ my yard – i have a few to go pick right now!) =)

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Magic of Spice August 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I don’t think I have ever seen such a beautiful Panzanella! I am French, but adopted Italian, lol…so I will never curse you :) This is really lovely Jen!

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