Let’s set the scene: The remnants of that delicious loaf of six-dollar bread you have on the kitchen counter has gone from crusty artisanal masterpiece to something that resembles a doorstop. It’s hard. It’s stale. It’s a lost cause. Right? Wrong.
Enter panzanella salad.
With spring’s arrival in the Foothills and summer right on its coattails, we’re celebrating the warmer temps by bringing you a Mediterranean-inspired salad that’s heavy on fresh veggies, toasty bread, local chèvre and aromatic flavors.
We’ll start with the bread: cube the remains of your bread into about one-inch pieces, and place them in a frying pan with a few liberal swirls of olive oil over medium-low heat. Be sure to keep a close eye on them as they begin to brown, turning them and arranging them as necessary to avoid burning them. Have a tendency to fuss over things? Perfect. That’s exactly what you’ll need here.
Give a good chop to the cherry tomatoes and cucumber (we like our cuke seeded – it’s a texture thing), and a quick rip to a handful of basil. Once the veggies are squared away, focus on the super simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, whisking them together thoroughly. A Mason jar with a tight lid is another great way to mix your salad dressings.
Toss the veggies with the dressing, and just before serving, toss in the beautiful fried bread. You’ll want to wait until the last possible second, here – the bread gets soggy quick, and no one wants a soggy salad. A few liberal plugs of Haystack’s Applewood Smoked Chèvre on top and you’re good to go.
This salad is the perfect addition to an evening meal on the patio. Want to make it the star of the show? Add grilled chicken or grilled salmon for a light, tasty meal. Enjoy!
1/2 large loaf crusty bread, cubed into 1″ pieces
3 garlic cloves, cracked
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, seeded and diced
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 Tbs. capers, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 oz. Haystack Applewood Smoked Chèvre, crumbled
For the Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the cracked garlic cloves and the bread cubes. Keep an eye on the bread as it begins to brown, turning them as necessary until they’re evenly golden brown. Remove the bread from the pan and cool it on a wire rack.
Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, capers and basil in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl (or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid), combine the dressing ingredients, whisking or shaking vigorously to combine. Toss the vegetables with the dressing and just before serving the salad, toss in the fried bread. Top with Haystack Applewood Smoked Chèvre and serve immediately.
Laura Hobbs is a writer, photographer, social media maven, and food enthusiast. She and her husband live in Boulder with their pooch Olive.