Normally when I have seen bread salad or Panzanella recipes in the past I have glanced right past them because um, soggy bread? No thank you. However for some reason last weekend I was tempted to make one when Jim and I both grabbed some bread at Harris Teeter. He bought a baguette and I bought some Asiago Cheese Bread. We also had tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.
So instead of making the traditional layered Caprese Salad I thought I would try to do a Caprese style bread salad. I thought I could be wrong about the bread getting soggy and maybe it was better than I expected it to be. I figured if I added the bread right before I served it, then it wouldn’t get soggy.
Wow, this was good. I have to say that the croutons (which is basically what the bread ends up being) made this salad into a wonderfully crunchy, garlicky delight. Plus, I figured if it’s this good in the middle of winter how good will this be in the summer with garden fresh tomatoes and basil?
This is another recipe that I put together but I tried to capture the recipe as much as I could. This is the basic idea, but you can adapt as you and your family wish.
- 3 cups of bread cut into small cubes (croutons) - I used Asiago bread and preferrably a harder crusty type of bread. Day old bread is always good for making croutons, but it's ok if it's not
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- dash of kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 3 large tomatoes seeded and chopped
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella chopped into small squares
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 handful of fresh basil cut into a chiffonade
- Heat pan over low to medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Once butter is melted add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the bread and toss to coat. Let the bread cook in the pan for about 10-15 minutes until crispy tossing every few minutes. You can add more olive oil if needed. Add the dash of kosher salt at the end. Once cooked remove from pan and set aside.
- To make the dressing combine 4 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, mustard, anchovy paste, salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined.
- In a large bowl add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and minced garlic clove and toss with the dressing until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate until about 5 minutes before serving. Add the croutons to the salad and toss. Add salt and pepper at the end to taste.