One of my go-to summer lunches this year was panzanella salad. I used to hate raw tomatoes but have recently started warming up to them, which has made cooking new things both easier and more fun! While we’ve been lucky enough to dip into fall temperatures this week here in DC, I wanted to share this recipe for the days you have some leftover produce, if it hasn’t cooled down where you are, or if you’re just trying to cling onto summer for a little longer. It’s incredibly easy, is packed with veggies, and can be made ahead of time!
I’m calling this particular salad “panzanella-inspired” because it doesn’t have some traditional panzanella ingredients like mozzarella, dijon mustard, and basil. One of my favorite things about panzanella salad is that it’s so customizable based on preference and what you have on hand–and this time, I only had a fresh parmesan blend, no basil, and I often skip the mustard if I’m being lazy. The key is using chunks of stale or toasted bread, red wine vinegar, and good tomatoes.
The proportions in this recipe are rough…you can follow it exactly if you’ve never made a similar salad before, but it’s best customized to your taste and preferences. And for a more traditional panzanella, my go-to is a version of this–I skip all the herbs besides basil and haven’t tried it with capers or garlic!
Arugula Panzanella-Inspired Salad
- 1 Persian cucumber, sliced thinly (or 1/4 regular cucumber)
- Handful mini tomatoes, cut into quarters (any are fine–I like colorful medley; add more or less based on your preference)
- 1/8 cup red onion, very thinly sliced (add more or less based on your preference)
- Ciabatta or a baguette (ideally stale; diced into cubes)
- Generous drizzle olive oil (ideally high-quality–I love Brightland)
- Generous drizzle red wine vinegar (I usually use just shy of 1 tablespoon)
- Shredded parmesan or a similar blend
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Large handful arugula
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, toss bread with a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Toast the bread on a baking sheet until crispy.
While the bread toasts, add your veggies to the empty bowl where you previously tossed the bread in olive oil.
Once the bread is toasted, add it to the bowl with veggies and stir to combine.
Top with shredded cheese (or diced up mozzarella, if that's what you're using) and mix.
Drizzle on the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
Add the arugula and mix again. If you're not serving immediately, wait to add the arugula until you're ready to eat.