I feel like I’ve been keeping a really big secret from you, so I’m attempting to make amends now by introducing you to one of my favorite salads. Say hello to the Greek Panzanella! I almost feel bad that it’s taken me this long to share it, as I make it often for all types of gatherings. This is that salad…the one that comes to mind when you need to bring a side dish for a gathering or make one for a dinner you’re hosting. It’s fresh and special, and it keeps well as there’s no lettuce that’s going to wilt down on you. While the fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, feta cheese, and kalamata olives are all special together in my book, it’s the homemade croutons mixed in with all of this vegetable goodness, soaking up a homemade Greek vinaigrette that sets it apart. Is your mouth watering? Mine is. 😉
As I’ve said, I make this Greek Panzanella a lot. The only reason I haven’t shared it sooner is that I normally make it when I’m entertaining or when I bring it to a gathering, so it’s hard to snap my photos. I took it to a Father’s Day barbecue this year, and I actually brought my camera so I could take the pictures. People probably think I’m crazy. I kind of am. 😆
I haven’t found anyone that doesn’t enjoy this salad, minus a few picky kids. The best part about it is you can prep the vegetables, and make the croutons and the dressing ahead of time. Simply keep the vegetables in the fridge until about an hour before serving time. Add the feta cheese, croutons, and the dressing, stir well, and let the salad sit out at room temperature. How many salads can you say that about? No wilted lettuce = no last minute salad prep. That’s worth it’s weight in gold if you ask me!
Next time you’re entertaining or asked to bring a salad somewhere, give this one a try. You can impress a few people who’ve never tried panzanella, or bread salad. You can always use store bought dressing or croutons to save time, but I highly suggest trying it homemade first. If you do, I’d venture a guess that you’ll go homemade right there on spot and never look back. It’s that good!
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces baguette or French bread, cubed (mini loaves are perfect, or use about ⅓ of a large loaf)
- 16 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- ½ cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- ⅓ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a large saute pan, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium to medium high heat. Add the bread cubes, and stir to coat in the oil. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Place the vegetables, kalamata olives, and feta cheese in a large serving bowl. Set aside.
- Place the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified and all of the oil has been added.
- One hour prior to serving, add the croutons and vinaigrette to the vegetables and stir until combined. Let the salad stand at room temperature. Salad is best when eaten the same day. Enjoy!
Recipe inspired by Barefoot Contessa's Greek Panzanella.