Sometimes dishes are classic for a reason, and Ina Garten's panzanella is one of them. Ravi and I have this bread salad on repeat during the summer months when tomatoes are at their peak. There's nothing like juicy ripe tomatoes, crunchy veggies, and crispy croutons all soaked in a garlicky vinaigrette. Then topped with a shower of fresh basil of course.
To lighten it up a bit, I choose a local whole grain sourdough bread (and use less of it). I also bake the croutons in the oven rather than pan frying them. Plus, I decrease the amount of oil in the dressing.
Whole wheat sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (4 heaping cups total)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 English cucumber, halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, julienned
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 grinds fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss bread cubes with olive oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Toss several times to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and set aside.
For the vinaigrette, whisk ingredients together and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with half the vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette as needed. Serve immediately or let sit 10-15 minutes for the flavors to blend.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten | The Barefoot Contessa