Panzanella is a Tuscan-born veggie salad with chewy bread cubes soaked with tasty salad dressing. We put a spin on the classic BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich and dreamt it up as a panzanella, where the bread cubes soak up the tangy balsamic vinaigrette and the rich bacon drippings. Use leftover Italian or French bread, such as a stale baguette or boule, regular or sourdough. If making this salad in the summer, use it as great backdrop to showcase beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz uncooked bacon
  • 5 cups shredded Romaine or butter lettuce
  • 1 (1-lb) container heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, or 4 tomatoes cut into wedges
  • Half a French baguette or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3-4 cups)
  • ? cup Balsamic Vinaigrette

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp and fat has rendered, about 15 minutes. Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain. Set aside.
  2. Pour out bacon grease, and wipe skillet clean. To the same skillet, add back 1 Tbsp reserved bacon grease; add bread cubes, toss to coat, and cook over medium heat until bread is nicely toasted on all sides, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Chop or crumble bacon. Add bacon, lettuce, tomato, and bread to a salad bowl. Toss with dressing. Let salad sit for at least 10 minutes for bread to start soaking up dressing.

Notes

If you prefer to make your own Balsamic Vinaigrette, here’s how:

  • Combine 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/4 cup of Balsamic vinegar in a bowl.
  • Add 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp of honey, a generous pinch of salt and a generous pinch of black pepper.
  • Whisk until emulsified.

Once you start making your own dressing, you will likely never look back to bottled dressings. Experiment by substituting other vinegars or lemon juice for the Balsamic vinegar, and try different mustards. Add a pinch of dried herbs or a clove of crushed garlic for even more flavor.