This Greek Panzanella Salad is one of my favorites. Tomatoes, cucumber, feta, onion, and olives tossed with bread cubes and a delicious dressing.
I am notorious for eating everything but the lettuce in my salad. My husband always looks over at my bowl of naked lettuce left and shakes his head saying, “I don’t know why you ever order salads.” Which…is why THIS salad is perfect for me. My friend Kendee recommended it and said it’s like eating the bottom of the bowl of your favorite salad with bread. I’ve always loved this flavor combination. Literally I couldn’t stop eating it. Tons of fresh veggies and toasted bread are tossed in a really easy vinaigrette. The bread soaks up some of the vinaigrette but still has a crunch. Crouton salad? Uh, ok. Twist my arm.
For me I know when a recipe is really good when I’m already planning to make it for company next time I entertain. My mom, bless her heart, always takes my recipes so literally and will run to the store for a small ingredient to make sure she follows the recipe exactly right. Mom, I’m telling you right now that it’s okay to use crumbled feta instead of cubed if that’s what you have. And if you use a green bell pepper instead of red or yellow, that’s totally fine too. I won’t tell.
Some panzanella salad recipes call for stale bread which never made sense to me because then it tastes like…dun, dun, dun….stale bread. Since we’re toasting the bread anyway it doesn’t have to be stale. It will still get that nice crunchy texture.
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced ¼-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, large diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ red onion, sliced in half rounds
- ½ pound feta cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup calamata olives, pitted
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup good olive oil
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; toast bread over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
- Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
- For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. While still whisking, add the olive oil to emulsify. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature or cold. If making ahead of time, prepare as directed but wait a little before serving to add the bread so that it doesn't get soggy.