A hearty and delicious Greek Panzanella Salad, with tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, homemade croutons and feta cheese, all in a tarragon vinegar vinaigrette.
I love panzanella salad. It's a wonderful use for day-old bread (and as a bread baker, I always seem to have some of that around!). It's also a little heartier that some salads, with the addition of the large pieces of bread together with all the beautiful vegetables. My husband likes that.
This version of panzanella salad brings a Greek influence to the usual version, with feta cheese and a Greek-inspired herb vinaigrette.
You may notice that there are no black olives in my "Greek" salad. I don't like olives, so I leave them out (well, sometimes I serve them on the side for the olive-lovers in my family :) In any event, feel free to add some to your salad, if you like!
Cook's Notes for Greek Panzanella Salad
For the croutons, keep in mind that you are aiming for lightly toasted, but still soft and bread-y (so not the completely dried out, rock hard variety). The drizzle of olive oil helps keep them softer, but be sure not to over-bake, as well.
If making ahead, prepare all the ingredients, but refrigerate them separately. Combine the ingredients and add the vinaigrette right when ready to serve (so your croutons don't get soggy).
I love tarragon vinegar and think it's well worth seeking out as an addition to your pantry. If you can't find it though, red or white wine vinegar can be used.
You will probably won't use all the croutons you bake up. They keep well at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze them for longer storage.
Greek Panzanella Salad
For the croutons:
- 3 slices day-old crusty bread (3/4 inch thick)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pinch oregano
Tarragon Vinegar Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup olive, vegetable or canola oil
- 1 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. ground oregano (or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves, or 1 tsp. fresh oregano leaves)
- 1/2 tsp. white sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
- 1/2 large English cucumber (unpeeled and cut in to large dice)
- 20 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion (about 2-inch long slices)
- 1 cup diced feta cheese
- Black olives (if desired)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375° F. Place diced bread cubes in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine well. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven until, stirring once, until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Taste and adjust as necessary (if too vinegary, add a bit more oil or likewise, if not vinegary enough, add a touch more). Set aside,
- To prepare the salad, combine the prepared cucumber, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add the feta cheese and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Finally, add some cooled croutons and toss. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.