Summer Party Panzanella
This Italian bread salad boasts the best summer garden bounties and toasted bread cubes, all tossed in a tangy white wine vinaigrette. It’s big enough to bring to your block party—and keeps well enough to keep all to yourself.
Yield: Makes about 6 quarts
Time: 35 minutes, plus at least 45 minutes to marinate
For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grainy dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
For the bread salad
- 1 large loaf french bread (a day or two old is best), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 large bell peppers (mix of red, orange or yellow), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Half an English cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (nearly 2 cups)
- 1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
- 1/2 cup basil sliced into thin ribbons
- 1/4 cup capers
- A very large salad bowl, or two large salad bowls in a pinch.
To make the vinaigrette
- Whisk together all ingredients and allow the flavors to mingle while you make the panzanella. Whisk again just before pouring over the bread salad.
To make the bread salad
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 425º F. Lightly grease a large sheet pan with olive oil.
- Place the bread cubes in a very large bowl and drizzle half of the olive oil and half of the salt over it. Toss to cover evenly, then pour the rest of the oil and salt and repeat.
- Spread the bread in one layer on the sheet pan and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and lightly toss to turn the bread—don’t worry too much about getting every single piece turned.
- Return to the oven and bake another 6 minutes, until it’s just barely starting to lightly brown. Turn off the oven and leave the bread in for another 5 minutes, or until it is crisp and turning golden-brown. Check every so often to make sure it’s not browning too quickly.
- After the bread is cool enough to touch, combine it with the vegetables, basil and capers. Pour the vinaigrette over everything and toss gently to combine.
- Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 45 minutes and up to several hours. Can be made several hours ahead for parties.
- Use a serrated knife (or an extremely sharp chef’s knife) and saw the bread to avoid squishing it when cutting.
- Make sure you use a very large bowl for this. If you don’t have one big enough, I’ve made this in two bowls before by just splitting everything roughly in half and mixing between the bowls, but one is definitely easier.
Keywords: panzanella, summer party panzanella