Years ago, prior to children, I took an amazing cooking class in Cleveland, Ohio. The chef prepared a panzanella salad for us and I was wowed! I had never heard of a panzanella salad but I was hooked with my first bite. A panzanella salad is basically a gorgeous salad with bread as one of the main ingredients. A bread salad. Seriously. Get out of town. And at this time of year, you can still get a lot of fresh, local veggies to really put this panzanella salad over the top.
Believe it or not, this bread salad thing gets better. What kind of bread is best in a bread salad? Crusty, older bread. Yup. Got leftover, crusty bread? Got salad ingredients? Impress your friends and family with this recipe. If you don’t have day-old crusty bread, Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, recommends toasting your bread in the oven at 275 degrees. I always have stale bread because I never throw out the crusts. I save them in a bread bag in my crisper so I can always whip up a few crunchy croutons for a soup or, conveniently, a beautiful panzanella salad. Waste not, want not, right?
Salads are always a great choice to get kids involved in the kitchen. This easy panzanella salad is no exception. No cooking involved and tons of veggies to prep. I am only half kidding when I tell my children that I had five kids to help me cut down on the chores I need to do around the house. Veggie prep? That’s a total kid job.
This salad can be a whole meal in a bowl. I had a handful of olives in the fridge so I tossed those in. I always keep capers in the fridge – so much flavor!!! And they keep forever – bonus. The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard salad fare – peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, basil. As a person who loves salad but doesn’t love lettuce, this is really a dream come true.
For the dressing, crush a couple of cloves of garlic, rub some salt into the garlic, and then add mustard, olive oil and vinegar into a small mason jar. My kids LOVE to shake up the dressing. Put all the bread salad ingredients into the bowl, toss gently, and pour the dressing over the top. Toss again. You CAN eat this immediately but it does taste a little bit better if you let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You can even enjoy this as leftovers the next day… the bread is going to be a little bit softer day 2, but it’s still really good!
Get your kids in the kitchen and have them help you make this super simple, very tasty weeknight meal!
Kids Cook Monday: Panzanella Salad
- 5 to 6 cups of bread , cubed (ideally bread that is a bit stale - focaccia, French bread, sourdough loaf)
- 2 large tomatoes , chopped
- 1/2 red onion , diced
- 1 large cucumber , chopped
- 1 to 2 peppers , chopped
- 1/4 cup mixed olives , chopped
- 3 T capers
- 10 to 20 basil leaves , cut into small ribbons
- 2-3 cloves garlic , crushed, rub with salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard (I used Lusty Monk)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Cut the bread into cubes. If you don't have day-old bread, toast the cubes in the oven at 275 degrees.
- Prepare all the veggies. I like to cut the vegetables to about the same size as the bread.
- Combine bread, veggies, olives, capers, and basil into a large bowl.
- Shake dressing in a mason jar. Pour over salad.
- Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes. Enjoy!