Caprese Panzanella Salad

Caprese Panzanella Salad- Toasted bread tossed with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a homemade basil dressing makes for the perfect summer side dish.


July 20, 2021 by Nicole Collins


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I have a question for you guys today.



Ok, so you all know how I have migrating south on my 5 yr plan.


Well actually, I guess it’s my 3 yr and 3 month plan by now.



But, does 2020 even count? I feel like it shouldn’t.


Ok, 4 year plan it is…



Anyway, I need to move south where the climates are warmer. However, I want to have my cake and eat it too. I don’t need it to be any warmer in the summer. Maryland definitely has the hot and humid summers under control. But, I want my winters to be warmer. No more snow. No more 30 degree days. No more frozen toes.


So, here’s my question. And, maybe this is a dumb question. But, do beach/water towns feels humidity differently than places not on the water.


In my mind, water towns would feel less humid. But, I don’t know what science I think should exist to support that.


If you know the answer, please tell me! In the meantime, let’s make something delicious that we can eat no matter how humid it is or isn’t.


Today, we’re making Caprese Panzanella Salad!



This salad is super fast, super easy, super beautiful, and super delicious. And, can you really ask for anything more than that when you’re looking for your perfect summer side dish? I don’t think so! So, let’s talk about how easily this comes together.



Let’s talk about panzanella salad, in general. Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad that typically consisted of stale (or lightly toasted) bread, tomatoes, and some kind of onion then dressed in a light vinaigrette. You’d think that mixing bread with naturally wet ingredients would create a gloppy mess. But instead, the bread absorbs just enough of the salad’s juices to slightly soften it without losing the integrity of the crunchy bread. It’s magical deliciousness!



For our salad, we’re going to use some ciabatta bread. I like that ciabatta is a little heartier than some breads, so I think it’s the perfect choice for this salad. All we need to do is cube our bread into bite sized pieces, toss it with some olive oil, and pop it in the oven to become golden and toasty for just a few minutes.



While the bread cools, we can prep the rest of the salad. Caprese salads need 3 components: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. And, that’s what we’re going to use. For the tomatoes, I like to use heirloom grape tomatoes. These are my favorite for two reasons: they come in a variety of beautiful colors and they have a perfectly sweet and delicious flavor. If you can’t find heirloom grape tomatoes (though they’re pretty readily available in grocery stores these days), you could use regular grape tomatoes.



For the cheese component of the salad, we’re going to dice up some fresh mozzarella. Now, you could use the baby mozzarella pearls for this recipe, but I liked having control over the size of the dice of my cheese. So, I bought a mozzarella ball and sliced it myself. Do whatever is easier for you!



Our final component is the basil dressing. And, you’ve seen this one before. That’s right! We’re dressing this salad in my infamous basil chive vinaigrette! This dressing is as simple as tossing some basil, chives, garlic, oil, and vinegar into a blender and zhooshing it up. Once the dressing is mixed, we’ll pour it straight in a big old bowl that’s already holding our bread, tomatoes, and cheese. Then we’ll toss it up, let it rest for a few minutes, and it’s ready to serve!



Nothing could taste like summer in a bowl more than this salad. The tomatoes are juicy and fresh. The dressing is light and bright. And, the crispy bread and creamy cheese are just like the icing on the cake.



Ok, everyone. I don’t think it really can get much better than a summery carb salad, so I can’t wait to hear what you think.


I hope you enjoy. And, let’s eat!






Caprese Panzanella Salad

Serves: 6 Print


Ingredients:

For the Basil Chive Vinaigrette:

  • 1 cup basil, packed

  • 1 heaping tbsp chives, chopped

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp pepper


For the Salad:

  • 4 heaping cups ciabatta bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 cups heirloom grape tomatoes, halved

  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced

  • flaky salt and pepper, to taste


Directions:

  1. Make the Basil Chive Vinaigrette: To a small food processor or blender, add basil, chives, vinegar, garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Process until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Toast the bread cubes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Add bread cubes and 2 tbsp olive oil. Toss well to coat the bread. Bake for 10-12 mins until the bread becomes golden and crisp. Set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Assemble the salad: To the large mixing bowl, add tomatoes, mozzarella, and bread cubes. Toss to combine. Add vinaigrette and a pinch of flaky salt and pepper, to taste. Toss well to completely coat. Allow salad to sit about 30 mins before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

*This salad is best served fresh. Though the bread holds up better than you'd think with all of the wet ingredients, it should be eaten within 4-5 hours of making it for the best results.

*I like to use heirloom grape tomatoes, because they add beautiful color and delicious sweet flavor. But, regular grape tomatoes can be used, as well.

*If you have lots of fresh herbs available to you, make a double batch of the basic chive vinaigrette, and freeze some of it in large silicone ice cube trays. Then, you can have a fresh, herbaceous sauce at all times once you thaw it out.

*This is my go to blender for small jobs like dressings and sauces.



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