Recipe: Fresh Panzanella

panzanella, bread salad, italian food

It seems like just a few days ago that I posted last, but it’s been way longer than that. So much has happened in the last year and a half. I was pregnant, we moved (twice!) and we have a beautiful son. Since becoming a mother, it seems like time is moving really fast and super slow at the same time. It’s incredible, really.

My to-do list is gigantic, but sometimes, when I stop and think about it, most things on it just aren’t as important as I thought they were.

We spend so much time going from place to place, and we spend nearly all of our free time with our little guy. It’s easy to lose track of the things we used to do before we had him. It’s not as easy to go out, visit someone, or have someone over for dinner.

Even a casual dinner at home with a friend takes a lot more planning on our end now, but we did it recently, and it was a great reminder of how much I enjoy cooking and entertaining.

Of course, our menu was limited by our little guy’s schedule and needs, so it took some careful consideration to pick the right dishes.

We decided on a Dutch oven chicken paprikash and a fresh panzanella salad. It seems a unlikely pair, but makes complete sense if you consider that my husband’s family is Hungarian and Italian by heritage. The chicken paprikash is creamy and flavorful, and the panzanella is bright and citrusy. They make the perfect dinner party combination.

Fresh Panzanella

First, make the crunchy bread:

  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • a healthy drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Spread the bread cubes evenly over a sheet pan.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss to coat.
  5. Bake at 375 until crispy.

Next, mix the dressing in a large bowl:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (I like the one from Saratoga Olive Oil)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Add the following to the bowl:

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, or an equal amount of smaller tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large English cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 sweet bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 handful of flat Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Toss the veggies and parsley in the dressing, add the bread cubes, and toss again.

This salad is best served after sitting at least 30 minutes. Toss it again right before serving.

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Kat Salemno

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