Special shout out to Mezzetta for sponsoring this post and helping keep this site/me moving/shaking/twisting.
As the summer dwindles down and fall foods start to creep in (I had an out of body experience the other day while my hand just involuntarily reached for a pumpkin spice almond creamer). I figured there needs to be some sort of summer send-off produce bucket list, a salute to all the good things we can’t have for another year:
– sweet juicy tomatoes
– perfect peaches etc.
– cute ripe strawberries
– cheap basil everywhere
When Mezzetta reached out and asked if I wanted to work on something I figuured it was the ideal time to cross perfect tomatoes off the list and give myself something to make all summer long.
The recipe really does lend itself to whatever vegetables you have on hand though, and would do really well as a fall salad with some roasted squash or chickpeas, I think it’ll appear as something fresh a few times this fall.
I will take any and all reasons to eat bread and call it a salad 🙂
Overall this is an incredibly dish to throw together. The dressing is just two ingredients (olive oil and brine from the Mezzetta peperoncinis) and brightens all the ingredients effortlessly. The bite you get from the peperoncinis is the boost of flavor every salad should have. And the cherry on top is that it lends itself to being made ahead of time, that extra 30 minutes for the bread cubes to soak up their olive oil peperoncini bath dressing is exactly what the salad calls for.
Whether you’re using the salad as a salute to summer or a hello to fall, it’s the perfect thing to serve to celebrate.
8 cups 1-inch cubed rustic bread, I used about a 10oz loaf of ciababtta
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup peperoncini brine
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes*
3 mini or Persian cucumbers, sliced*
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Mezzetta sliced golden greek peperoncini
1/4 cup parsley leaves
salt and cracked black pepper
Start by toasting your bread cubes. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until it’s all covered then bake for 18-20 minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted and dried out, shaking the pan halfway through to make sure the bread is toasting as evenly as possible.
Once the bread is toasted, set it aside to cool completely. While you wait for it to cool you can prep your vegetables and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble.
When you’re ready to assemble the salad, make the dressing by whisking together the rest of the olive oil with the peperoncini brine, 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a very large bowl. Add the toasted bread cubes with the prepared vegetables, sliced peperoncini, and parsley and toss together until everything is dressed then taste to see if you need any more salt or pepper. For perfect panzanella let the salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to let the bread soften a little and absorb all the flavors of the salad but if you’re in a hurry serve it right away and you’ll be fine.
*If you don’t have enough tomatoes or cucumbers you can also use garbanzo beans, carrots, etc. just use 4 cups total of whatever chopped vegetables you have or want to use.