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Panzanella Salad with Ricotta

Hello and Welcome! It’s hard not to love a Panzanella salad: crusty, crunchy hunks of bread soaking up olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper; juicy ripe summer tomatoes; thinly sliced onion adds a sharpness and fresh basil leaves give it color and sweet fresh flavor. This Panzanella salad has an extra indulgence: ricotta cheese, dolloped on each serving and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. This is a simple salad, a perfect starter, side or light main dish. Let’s get right to it!

Panzanella Salad with Ricotta

The Bread

Traditionally, Panzanella is made with old crusty bread. But I didn’t have day old bread for this so I used fresh bread. In fact, the loaf I decided to make this salad with was one of those par-baked baguettes that you finish off in your home oven. So I baked the baton at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then I let it cool completely; for about 2 hours.

torn baguette pieces

Personally, I like there to a be a little chewiness to the toasted bread pieces and making this salad with fresh bread means that the pieces will get nice crispy edges, but centers of some of the bigger pieces will maintain a chewy center. Tear the bread into bite size pieces and spread them out on a sheet pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake them in a 375 degree oven until they’re golden and toasted, about 17-20 minutes. Then, let them cool a little bit.

toasted bread pieces

Tomatoes, Onions and Dressing

I have three large, ripe red tomatoes and I will toss in about one cup of halved yellow cherry tomatoes.

Thinly slice half of a white, yellow or red onion. Toss the tomatoes and the onion slices in a large mixing bowl and drizzle on 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, then 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Give this a good stir and season with coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

tomatoes and onions tossed with dressing and seasoning

Add the cooled, toasted bread pieces to the bowl and toss to fully combine. Let this sit for about 10-15 minutes, tossing it again every five minutes or so.

Just before you’re ready to serve, tear several basil leaves and toss them in, use as much as you like! Give the salad a good mix to incorporate the basil leaves. Be sure to add the basil only just before serving so the leaves won’t wilt and turn brown before service.

Panzanella Salad

Portion Panzanella Salad equally amongst as many bowls as you’re serving and spoon 5 small dollops of ricotta on top of each serving. Space the dollops out so they dot the top of each portion of salad. Then, drizzle olive oil over the salad and the dollops of ricotta and sprinkle with a little more coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Panzanella Salad with Ricotta

This salad is so perfect for the end of summer. It’s a great way to put those summer tomatoes and fresh basil leaves to delicious use. The ricotta adds such a nice mellow richness – it’s cool and refreshing. And the crispy, crunchy, chewy textures of the toasted bread is so satisfying! If you’re looking for another great salad for these last few weeks of summer, try my Summer Bean Salad – it’s as delicious as it is simple. Be sure to give me a follow on Instagram, and I will see you Wednesday with a post all about how to stock your vacation pantry, so be sure to tune in for that! Take care and be well everyone, xo Kelly

Panzanella Salad with Ricotta

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Dinner, Main Course, Appetizer, Side Italian
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cooking Time: 15-20 Minutes Total Time: ~35 Minutes

Toasted bread, juicy ripe summer tomatoes; thinly sliced onion, fresh basil leaves dressed in olive oil and vinegar, with dollops of ricotta.

Ingredients

  • 1 Baton, or small Baguette, torn into bite size pieces
  • 3 Large Ripe Tomatoes, cut into large-ish bite size pieces
  • 1 cup Yellow Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 Yellow, Red or White Onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus more for drizzling on bread and over ricotta)
  • 3 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Coarse Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • Several Fresh Basil Leaves, torn into smaller pieces
  • Ricotta Cheese

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2

Spread torn baton pieces on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the bread pieces are golden and toasted.

3

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and onion slices in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the red wine vinegar, toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

4

Add toasted bread to the mixing bowl and toss to combine and coat the bread pieces in the dressing.

5

Let sit for 10-15 minutes and just before serving, add the basil leaves and toss to incorporate the basil into the salad.

6

Serve individual portions of the salad in wide shallow bowls and top with 5 small dollops of ricotta cheese. Drizzle olive oil over salad and ricotta, sprinkle with more salt and pepper.

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  • Carroll
    August 23, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Sounds delicious and looks so pretty! Giving it a try.

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 23, 2021 at 10:24 am

      It’s so easy and so satisfying, Carroll! Have a great week, let me know how it turns out for you! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    August 23, 2021 at 10:29 am

    I’ll be making this for Sunday dinner it will complement our main course ♥️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 23, 2021 at 11:16 am

      Great idea, Mom! Let me know how it goes, xo Kelly

  • Mari
    August 23, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    The pictures are gorgeous. We eat with our eyes first and if it looks good, we eat it with our mouths. It’s amazing how involved all of our senses are with food. This looks absolutely delicious, and with summer galloping to a close, light easy relaxing meals like this fit the bill perfectly. I love salads and I could eat them every meal of the day. I’m making extra so I can have this for breakfast in the morning. I don’t usually like breakfast foods, but I can always eat a salad. Your breakfast sandwich for a crowd was an exception. We’ve had that more than once already!

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 23, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      It is very true that we eat with our eyes and noses first, Mari! I think leftover Panzanella would be a great breakfast. I could see topping it with a poached or medium-boiled egg too! I am so happy the breakfast sandwiches have been such a hit with your family. That’s wonderful! Have a great day and let me know how the Panzanella turns out for you. xo Kelly