Greek Panzanella

Why, oh why,  have I waited this long to try panzanella?  In case you are unfamiliar, panzanella is bread salad that has Italian origins.  It’s a very adaptable meal that is easily altered based on the ingredients you have around and what your taste buds fancy.  I have seen lots of variations and they all sound pretty great but none had compelled enough to actually try it.  When I saw this Greek version, it went onto the next week’s menu immediately.  I have to say it more than exceeded my expectations.  I wouldn’t exactly call it healthy since it is, after all, a bread salad and it uses a good deal of olive oil.  However, it is a really great way to get a lot of vegetables into a meal.  Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, red onion and olives – plus feta cheese!  Yum yum.  I thought this would be a meal that I really liked and Ben was indifferent to, but he was equally impressed.  It does make a large quantity but I am so glad we didn’t halve it.  I had it as leftovers for lunch and even though the bread was a bit soggy the second day, it still tasted fantastic.  Now I’m super motivated to try more variations of panzanella.  Bring it on!

Greek Panzanella
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Ingredients:
For the salad:
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups French bread cubes (1 inch)
Kosher salt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ red onion, sliced thin
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained (kalamatas would also be good if you like that sort of thing)

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1¼ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
To prepare the salad, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned.  Remove from the heat.

Combine the cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl.  To make the vinaigrette, combine the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion.  Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables.  Add the feta, olives, and bread cubes.  Mix together lightly.  Set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend (if you can wait that long!)

Source: barely adapted from Smells Like Home, originally from Ina Garten

26 Responses

  1. Delicious! I love panzanella salad, and this Greek version sounds great.

  2. This looks fabulous! A perfect summer salad. 😉

  3. I’ve always been a little nervous about trying panzanella too! But maybe I’ll give it a try now.

  4. This looks great!!!

  5. In my opinion, Greek-ifying anything is a good thing!!! And this definitely looks like a thing for me to try!

  6. I made my first panzanella last week after seeing a couple of different recipes for it recently. Loved it and plan on making it again tonight.

  7. This looks great. I too keep reading all kinds of different recipes for this but have yet to try it. One of these days. 🙂

  8. Until I saw your lovely picture, I couldn’t remember what panzanella was. It’s something Peter likes to make from time to time. A great summer dish!

  9. MMM! I have always wanted to try panzanella!! Seems easy enough but one question – does the bread stay crunchy or do they get mushy? Thanks!

    • I sort of addressed that in the post, but it’s only mushy if you wait a long time to serve it (like as leftovers).

  10. Mmmm, feta makes everything betta!

  11. I have been wanting to try more ethnic cooking lately, and Greek has been first on my list! This looks so delicious and fresh and vibrant, and I can’t wait to try it.

  12. yummy! I can’t wait to try this version! If you loved this, you should try caprese panzanella…delish! (recipe here: http://www.thesweetslife.com/2010/04/panzanella-caprese.html)

  13. This looks great, i’m definitely going to try it! I don’t know if i’ve ever even heard of panzella..

  14. Thanks! I saw in the post that you said leftovers were a bit soggy…glad to know it takes some time! Thanks again for answering my question!

  15. I loved this salad – light and fresh for summer and so addicting.

  16. Made this last night for my dinner, since I had planned on making your tomato/feta/cuke salad. This is definitely delish and I could see lots of variations here. I saved myself a pan and just roasted the bread in the oven on foil, crouton style. This is probably a great entertaining salad, since it can be made ahead. Not like regular tomato salad, which needs to be served right away. Thanks Annie

  17. I recently discovered the joys of panzanella too! This Greek one has been on my list to make for too long now. It looks amazing. And if you make it with whole grain bread it makes it even healthier! 🙂

  18. This looks really good. I saw a grilled version that I want to try but I also want to try your version too, the feta, red onion and olives are calling to me!

    Hey, I finally made your cilantro lime rice and posted about it. Very good flavor and super easy, thanks for sharing!

  19. This is AWESOME! Just made it, and am now enjoying the creation. The toasted bread is such a nice touch!!

  20. Can I just say: I adore your blog!! This recipe looks fantastic!! I am making it tonight with a couple variations based on the ingredients I have on hand.

  21. It looks so delicious. I love Panzanella, but only tried it for the first time last year!

  22. Oh, Annie, I made this tonight, and it’s AWESOME. My variation–I roasted the peppers; I’m not crazy about raw bell peppers. SO good!

  23. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to comment on this, but this recipe has by far become one of my very favorties from this site. I have been making it at least once a week if not more. We do the bread a little differently which maintains the crunchiness well into the second day, but overall I can not say enough great things about this meal! Thanks for opening my eyes to what I was missing! 🙂
    http://cross-referenced.blogspot.com/2010/09/panzanella.html

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