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Panzanella Salad, Caprese-Style

We enjoy this “White Bean Panzanella Salad” from my America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Cookbook. It kind of reminds me of Caprese Salad, which features tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil.

Caprese meet Panzanella. Panzanella, meet Caprese. 

I added fresh mozzarella pearls to ATK’s Panzanella. The result is a fresh and substantial salad; it’s a meal in itself.

Panzanella Caprese

Recipe Recommendations:

1) This salad doesn’t save well for leftovers, due to wilting greens and soggy bread. I recommend prepping step 1 and 2, then, tossing single servings together as needed.

2) Use what you have on hand but stick to these base ingredients: vinegar/oil, bread, tomatoes, arugula, and basil. In a pinch, I’ve substituted chickpeas for the cannellini beans. And sometimes, I skip the onions.

3) Play with the ratios – If you want a healthier version, skip the motz or parm (yes, I said that), decrease the bread, and add extra beans.

4) As a timesaver, you can skip the first step, by leaving the bread in the paper deli bag, voilà, crusty bread. Though, it has more flavor when it is oven-toasted.

5) Regarding vinegar – there is a great variety in taste and quality and since the vinegar is prominent in this dish, choose wisely. ATK and Cooking Light consider the Pompeian Red Wine Vinegar at $2.19, the best both in value and taste, Cooking Light said, “The least expensive vinegar in our test amazed us with its well-balanced flavor. The acidity gives way to very grapey, almost portlike flavors that would be welcome in any pan sauce, especially over pork or chicken.”

For other inspiration, try this Gourmet Magazine version, Panzanella Caprese recipe. I liked the ATK version because of the hearty beans. 

White Bean Panzanella Salad

12 ounces crusty, rustic, Italian-style bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
olive oil spray
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped medium with seeds and juice reserved (see note above)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed (I used chickpeas, in a pinch)
1 small red onion, halved and sliced very thin
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (divided)
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
3 ounces baby arugula (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella Pearls (optional)

1) Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the bread cubes with olive oil spray and spread out over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake stirring occasionally, until just lightly golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

2) Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and 1/4 salt together in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the tomatoes with their seeds and juice, beans onions, 1-1/2 tablespoons of the basil and 1 tablespoon of oregano. Let sit at room temperature for the flavors to meld, about 20 minutes.

3) Stir in the combined croutons, remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons basil and remaining tablespoon oregano. Gently fold in the arugula and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and serve.

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Comments
One Response to “Panzanella Salad, Caprese-Style”
  1. kathleen johnson says:

    Nice post. Looks yummy.

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