Fresh sweet cherries, summer corn, spicy rocket, the juiciest heirloom tomatoes and fresh olive bread. The best thing you will make all summer!
This was my first time eating and making a panzanella salad. Before this, I had no idea what a panzanella salad even was. Being the salad lover that I am, I obviously had to give it a go.
I mean, obviously.
Just in case you’re new to the panzanella salad club, here’s the 411 (according to Wikipedia)- it’s a “…salad of bread and tomatoes that is popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar.”
Naturally, I didn’t follow the rules and make a “classic” panzanella salad. I will, one day, if for no other reason than to compare and contrast. Or, perhaps I’ll have to travel to Tuscany in the summer and have the masters teach me (totally dreaming); however, I made my own version and it is the absolute best salad I have ever had.
Ok, maybe not ever, but DEFINITELY the best salad I have had all summer.
My husband, who loves everything I cook is usually pretty silent when he eats; at least when it comes to comments on my food (I realize this probably makes it seem like he does not like my food, but he just says it’s because all my cooking is good).
Well, my usually silent husband would not stop chattering about how much he LOVED this salad. And it continued into the next afternoon as we bickered over would eat the leftovers.
We’re grown-ups so we shared.
There are a couple of tips, however, into making this the best salad ever. First, and most important, purchase tasty tomatoes. You will be eating the tomato and soaking the bread in the tomato juice. You want the most delicious tomatoes you can possibly find. That said, while you want your tomatoes to be tossed in the tomato juice, you don’t want them to take a bath. I used three heirloom tomatoes and it was the perfect amount of tomato juice for five pieces of bread. If you think you may have an unbalanced juice to bread ratio, start with half the juice and add more as needed. Finally, use the freshest ingredients possible. This is especially important for the rocket (arugula). Soggy greens are no Bueno.
Oh wait. One more.
I did not toss this salad with oil and vinegar as it was not needed. However, don’t hesitate to drizzle a little oil or vinegar (balsamic would taste especially good here), if desired.
Cherry & Rocket Panzanella Salad
- 2 cups fresh cherries (pitted and halved)
- 5 ounces fresh rocket
- 1/2 cup fresh basil (roughly chopped)
- 5 slices fresh bread (I used Trader Joe's Kalamata Bread)
- 1 garlic clove (cut in half)
- Olive oil for brushing
- 4 ripe heirloom tomatoes
- 1 ear of corn (cooked with corn cut away from cob)
- 1 small red onion (sliced thin using a mandolin)
- Salt + Pepper
- 1 Avocado (pitted and sliced)
- Remove pits and cut cherries in half, set aside.
- In a large salad bowl place the fresh rocket and chopped basil. Toss to combine and set aside.
- Slice tomatoes and chop into chunks. Transfer tomatoes to a mesh strainer over a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Gently toss to combine. Allow tomato juice to drain into the bowl, reserving the juice for later.
- Preheat your oven broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Place sliced bread pieces on baking sheet and rub both sides with halved garlic cloves. Brush both sides with olive oil and transfer to preheated oven. Toast each side for approximately 2 minutes, or until nice and toasty (but not burnt). Remove from oven and cool. Tear cooled toast into small chunks and transfer to the bowl with the reserved tomato juice, tossing to combine.
- Add the cherries, tomatoes, onion and corn to the bread and toss well. Transfer bread and cherry mixture to salad bowl and toss lightly with the rocket and chopped basil. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and salt (if needed). Top with avocado and olive oil, if desired.
- Best served immediately (although, the leftovers were delicious, too).
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)