Tuscan Panzanella Salad with Homemade Grilled Croutons

I thought this summer weather would die down and I’d be on to making hearty, warmer dishes like slow-cooker meals, soups and stews. Well, I was wrong. We had a heat-wave once again. I remembered a while back my hubby ate out and said he had an amazing “salad with bread in it” (aka panzanella). When he told me what was in it, my wheels started turning and I immediately thought of this salad. I am a huge fan of making your own salad dressings. They are just better! You can control the amount of sugar and salt. I always have homemade on hand and if I do not, I’m able to whip some up in just a few minutes. So here is what I came up with when my hubby asked me to re-create the dish. Even though I haven’t tasted the restaurant’s version, mine was pretty darn good, if I say so myself. My brother-in-law was over and really enjoyed it as well! So raise your glass to this yummy and filling salad! CHEERS!

-Tammy

Health tips:  Heart healthy, kidney friendly

Ingredients (4 PLUS servings)

For the Dressing:

  • ¼ c. white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced, chopped, or finely grated on a Microplane
  • ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp. dry Italian seasoning
  • 1 TBS mayonnaise
  • 2/3 c. olive oil

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For the Salad:

  • ½ large head of romaine lettuce
  • ½ bag of arugula
  • 1/3 c. kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into chunks (I used Roma tomatoes because they were on sale)
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 3 TBS capers
  • 1/3 c. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 c. cubed bread of choice (preferably a French round loaf or baguette) My uncle is the owner of a bread shop, so I used his whole wheat kalamata sourdough boule.
  • http://www.therusticloaf.com/

  • Balsamic glaze to drizzle on top (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat the grill to a medium-low to medium heat level.
  2. Make salad dressing. Blend the first 7 ingredients, then add oil. You can either shake all ingredients in a mason jar, or blend together for a few seconds in a small blender such as the Bullet. Set aside.
  3. Slice bread into 1 inch thick slices. Drizzle olive oil onto bread slices and grill. Grill for a few minutes on each side until the bread is hard, crusty, and has grill marks. Take off, let cool. Then cut into 1 inch cubes.

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4.  Cut/chop the rest of the ingredients for the salad. Add the greens, tomatoes, onions, olives, and bread to a large bowl. Start by adding half of the dressing into the bowl and toss. If you need more, you can add it. Top with capers and feta.

5.  Enjoy this satisfying, filling salad! Cheers!

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