I’d like to introduce you all to my new favorite lunch. I haven’t quite convinced Oliver that it’s a lunch (he always side-eyes salad), but if I throw a hot dog on a plate with this beside it, he’s quite happy to pick away. Silly boy. If you already know Panzanella salads, well first off, lucky you and why didn’t you tell me about them sooner. Second, you may think that this is not a panzanella. Look, I like cheese.
Who doesn’t like cheese? If you are one of those crazy people (cough, Bo), who doesn’t like cheese, just leave it out.
Also, my bread is toasted up in a frying pan and not of the grill. It’s just easier for me. Especially when it’s pouring down rain, as it was both times that I made this in the last two weeks. And ok, maybe I season my bread like I do when I make croutons for salad. Don’t knock it until you try it. Also, make extra so you have croûtons for salad the next day, you’ll thank me for this.
Now I’ll tell you the best part of this salad. There is no need for any measuring cups or spoons. Don’t be scared about this. A year ago, I would have been scared about this. Then I just closed my eyes, let go of the control, and it was so freeing. There have also been less dishes to put away from the dishwasher. Win, win. Trust yourself to season to taste, and hold back if you aren’t sure, because while it’s easy to add more, it’s impossible to get the salty taste out of the pasta when you add too much to the water. Sorry, I digress.
Onto the salad!
Here’s pretty much everything you need. I say pretty much because not pictured is the fresh basil, garlic powder, garlic salt, and butter. I’m always good for forgetting something from the picture. What we do have is some bocconcini cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, rustic bread, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
Now’s time to do the prep. You may notice that the items in these photos are not the same. That’s because they’re from the small, just Oliver and I version from two weeks ago. Meaning I forgot to take photos of the steps in this nice big version.
Cut your bread up into bite size cubes. They don’t have to be perfect.
Peel your cucumber, then cut it up into bite sized cubes too.
Onto the tomato, and you guessed it, cut it up into bite sized pieces.
Now, throw some olive oil and butter into a skillet until the butter has completely melted.
Add the bread and toss it with a wooden spoon every couple of minutes until browned on all sides. It will be nice and crunchy on the outside, but still a bit soft on the inside.
Turn off the heat now and season them with a bit of salt, pepper, garlic salt, and garlic powder. Now pat yourself on the back because you have just made the most delicious salad croutons of your life. I usually stand at the pan and eat them like this for about 5 minutes before moving on. Once they’re completely cool you can keep them in a zip lock bag for a day or two.
Now that the bread is ready, and everything else is prepped (look at that, I also managed to chop up the fresh basil, which I forgot to mention before). Also, if you use smaller tomatoes like I did i this version, make sure that you cut them at least in half. You want all that yummy tomato juice to help flavor the bread.
I also cut the bocconcini in half too. I take small bites, what can I say.
Throw the cheese, tomatoes, and cucumber into a big bowl and toss to mix.
Add a drizzle of olive oil, a few good gluggs of red wine vinegar (you’re loving my measuring descriptions, I know), and some salt and pepper to taste. Toss it all up, then try a couple of pieces to see if it’s seasoned right. If it tastes too oil-y, just add some more vinegar.
Throw the bread on top.
Toss it up again.
And we’re done!
I mean, come on. It’s beautiful looking. It make you look good when you serve it to other people. The bread keeps a bit of it’s crunch in some areas, but in others it just soaks up all that tomato juice and vinegar and it’s just so, soooo good.
Here’s your printable:
- ½ lb rustic, country style bread, cut into bite size cubes
- 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
- 2 cups bocconcini cheese, cut in half
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped or torn into smallish pieces
- garlic salt
- garlic powder
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a skillet over medium high heat until the butter is melted. Add the bread cubes and sauté, tossing frequently, until golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and garlic powder.
- In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, and basil. Drizzle on remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then taste to see if anything needs adjusting. Add the toasted bread to the bowl, toss well, and serve.
The measurements above will give you 4 servings. Don't feel tide to any quantities though, it's all really just to taste. Sub out cherry tomatoes for beefsteak, etc.
It's basically ¼ cup cheese, ½ cup bread cubes, 1 average size tomato, and ¼ cucumber per person.