Earlier this summer my husband and I had a delicious panzanella salad at a local restaurant. Most panzanella salads incorporate tomatoes and bread; however, this version was interesting. It featured not only tomatoes but also peaches and watermelon.
It was really an unexpected combination — but so delicious. I thought I would try to re-create the salad, and I was inspired by the over-abundance of peaches in my house (from a recent peach picking trip). Panzanella salad is also a recipe I’ve been meaning to make, so I was excited to finally try my hand at it!
What I love about this salad is that it allows you to use day-old crusty bread – which I always seem to have lying around my kitchen. It also offers the chance to incorporate seasonal fruit in a new and innovative way. It’s not your typical salad — it’s like a savory fruit salad.
In addition to the fruit, it features thinly sliced red onion, tangy feta cheese, fresh basil and crisp croutons. It’s simply dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The croutons eventually soak up the juices from the fruit creating a nice combination of textures which really helps set this salad apart!
It can also easily be modified. If you follow a gluten or dairy-free diet you can omit the croutons and the feta cheese. You can throw some veggies into the salad as well — perhaps cucumbers or peppers. Whatever fruit or vegetables you add, try to keep it roughly the same size.
Tomato, Peach and Watermelon Panzanella Salad
Serves 4-6 people
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 peaches, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1 1/2 cups of watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly (in half moon-shaped slices)
1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
15 basil leaves, cut finely
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
15 large croutons (see recipe below)
salt and pepper to taste
Add tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, red onion, feta cheese and basil to a large bowl. Mix the olive oil and vinegar in a separate, small bowl and pour over the salad. Incorporate croutons and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Helpful hint: You can make your own bread croutons with day old bread. Cut the bread into cubes and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, toss and bake at 400 degrees until crisp and slightly browned. The croutons will harden as they cool.