I watched a lot of Giada De Laurentiis growing up and dreamt of being like her. I learned much of what I know about cooking and Italian food from her. I studied the way she presented recipes, her catch phrases and the way her poise and confidence came across on camera. I still wear the Bubble Bath color of nail polish she wears on camera and think of her dramatic Italian pronunciation when I say anything like “mozarrella” or “panchetta.”
Today on Food Network Snapchat Discover I am sharing a gorgeous Spring Panzanella Salad made with gorgeous tomatoes and asparagus. Panzanella salad is an Italian bread salad….yes a bread salad! It’s made with cubes of crusty bread that soak up the flavors of the juicy tomatoes and vinaigrette. You can use a loaf of bread that didn’t get eaten or you can just as easily toast some bread in the oven to dry it out – a necessary step to make sure it can act as a sponge and soak up all the flavor of the salad! Since farmers’ market season is here, I always pick up a handful of gorgeous ripe tomatoes. They are bursting with flavor and make the idea pair to bread in this salad.
- 2 cups day-old or crusty bread cubed in 1" pieces (if bread is fresh, see directions below)
- 1 cup ripe heirloom tomatoes cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 cup uncooked asparagus cut into 1-2" pieces
- ½ cup cucumbers, quartered
- ¼ cup basil
- 4 ounces feta cheese, cubed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ½ lemon, zested and juiced
- If your bread is not dried and a little crunchy, put the cubes into the oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes until they have dried out. They don't have to be golden or toasted, just dried out.
- In a large bowl, add bread cubes, tomato, asparagus, cucumbers, basil and cheese.
- In a jar or small bowl, mix together all the dressing ingredients. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Pour dressing over bread and toss. Place in the fridge to marinate and chill for at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours. The bread will soak up the tomato juices and dressing. Serve within the day.
Whether you’re heading to a Memorial Day picnic tomorrow or looking for fresh, colorful recipes for summer, this is a winner. Giada, Ina and many of my Food Network faves have showed me the way of this Italian summer salad and this is my version. I use a little djion mustard in the dressing for a tangy bite, add salty, crumbly cheese and lots of fresh basil. The whole combo is something I could eat straight out of the bowl….and don’t worry, I actually have! Let’s just hope Giada would be proud of this version. I wonder if she is swiping through Food Network Snapchat Discover today too?!
Remember, the videos are only up for 24 hours, so catch it while you can. Open Snapchat, swipe all the way to the right until you see the Discover area, find Food Network and tap through until you see my story!
Love food. Love self. Love life.