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Panzanella Picnic Salad

Contributed by: Seasonal Appetites

Rustic and robust as the hills of Tuscany, this easy salad travels well. It will be the pick of any potluck.

Panzanella Picnic Salad

Summer is a wonderful season for cooks. Fresh vegetables from your garden and the farmers' market make cooking a breeze. They need little treatment to toss into a terrific meal.

Now is the time to get out of the kitchen, go off to the park and out to the lake. It’s a perfect time for dining al fresco with friends, to linger at the beach and to plan a potluck.

This recipe for the classic Italian panzanella salad is a favorite summer dish. It relies on our backyard garden’s abundant ripe tomatoes tossed with plenty of peppers and cucumbers.

Fresh ingredients

This rustic classic also makes tasty use of left over odds and ends of good Italian or French bread. Because this salad is not loaded with mayo, but relies on a simple, light vinaigrette, it travels nicely and actually tastes better after it’s had some time for the flavors to marry.

In this version, the bread is first browned to make croutons that give fabulous crunch.

Toast Croutons in Hot Oil

Try serving this with grilled steak, chicken or fish. Toss in lots of cubed mozzarella and call it a full meal. It will be the hit of the potluck...that is if you can keep yourself and kitchen helpers from snitching the croutons!

You can toast the croutons a day ahead and whisk together the vinaigrette, too. Then all you need to do before serving is chop the vegetables and tomatoes and toss the whole thing together.

Toss Panzanella ingredients with dressing

Don’t hesitate to toss in any other summer vegetable you choose. Add cooked green beans, summer squash or grilled eggplant. Left overs store nicely, but no doubt you’ll have none!

Fresh flavors for the garden in a quick Italian salad that’s perfect for a pot luck.  Rustic Italian Picnic Salad - Panzanella! 

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