Marinated Vegetable Salads: Panzanella Recipe

I’m a glutton at the farmers market in late summer and early fall. Everything speaks my language. The tomatoes, especially, know my secret siren call.

But K-Pants and Baby Woww aren’t exactly helpful, and making dinner seems like a daily battle.

So I’m relying on a few flavorful marinated salads to ensure that we have fresh side dishes. We’ve been trying to eat more vegetables in general, because everywhere I look the message is MORE VEGETABLES = LONGER, HEALTHIER LIFE.

Okay, okay, I get it!

Here’s the recipe for panzanella, an Italian vegetable and bread salad with a simple dijon dressing that I came to love through the Barefoot Contessa. The next food posts will be

  • Marinated broccoli, cucumber, and tomato salad; and
  • Marinated corn, tomato, and onion salad with easy chimichurri sauce.

For all my salads I start by mixing up a simple dressing right in the bottom of the glass bowl that I’ll be storing the salad in. 

Panzanella (Italian bread salad)


    • 3 bell peppers, chopped (various colors makes the salad pretty)
    • 3 tomatoes, chopped
    • 3 cucumbers, seeded and chopped
    • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 tbs. dijon mustard
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
    • 1 scant tsp salt
    • 1 generous tsp pepper
    • chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano…if you have them)
    • balsamic or red wine vinegar
    • olive oil
    • 1 loaf bread, sliced into 1″ cubes (it helps if your bread is hearty and not pre-sliced–I like Grand Central Bakery’s levain, and any baguette will work)

Now Do This

Make the dressing first.

  • Throw garlic, dijon, salt, pepper, and herbs into the bottom of your bowl.
  • Add 1/3 cup vinegar and whisk together.
  • Whisking briskly, drizzle in 2/3 cup to 1 cup olive oil.

Then prep the veggies and toss.

  • Chop all your veggies into about one-inch square pieces. It’s nice to have everything all the same size for forking.
  • But the onions! Who wants a giant piece of raw onion to chomp on? Not me. Slice your red onion up real thin.
  • Throw everything into the dressing and toss it well.

Now slice and sauté your croutons in oil.

  • Cut chunks of bread to 1″ cubes.
  • Get about 1/3 cup oil to medium-high heat on the stove in a big sauté pan, and throw in a bread cube to see if the oil is hot enough.
  • Loosely cover the bottom of your pan with bread cubes. Using tongs, check and turn them when one side is browned. I only brown two sides, because who has time to turn them more than that? Keep going until you’re done.
  • Set them aside to cool.
  • Add the croutons to your salad about five minutes before eating. They’ll soak up the dressing and you’ll be in heaven. I keep the extras in a plastic Ziploc to use throughout the week.

Are you in a rush? Do you hate to cook? Just chop the veggies, toss in a cup of store-bought vinaigrette, and add some boxed croutons a few minutes before eating. 

Two other delicious veggie recipes you may enjoy:

3 responses to “Marinated Vegetable Salads: Panzanella Recipe

  1. Oh excellent! Now I don’t need to email you for the marinated broccoli salad recipe. And if the others are as good as it was, I’ll gladly take those too!

  2. Over the weekend, we had some guests up to the house who have less than carnivorous tendencies. What exactly does that mean? No meat, fish or eggs. I learned this weekend that milk is typically off the list as well, but cheese is given the green light. At first I was thinking that a salad would be the easiest way to achieve mealtime nirvana. I was thinking that we would get some fresh greens and have it salad bar style where you pile on what you would like. Caroline gave the idea two big thumbs down saying that I had more imagination and creativity for our good friends than to make a salad bar. She’s right, I do. Time for some thinking. Next idea: ratatouille with a fresh crumb topping. Then I thought about the house and how hot it gets with the oven going, so that idea went out the window. Maybe I could make a swanky salad like fennel with watercress and a light lemon vinaigrette dressing. Make some fresh croutons which I would coat with fresh herbs from the container garden. Problem is that we are at the lake and watercress is really hard to find up here.

  3. Pingback: When Mana Shim of the Portland Thorns Came Over to Make Salad and I Force-fed Her Gazpacho | momsicle

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