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Summer Panzanella Salad

Summer Panzanella Salad excerpted from Around Our Table by Sara Forte.This salad is best plated (or shallow bowled!) so you can scrape up a bit of that pillowy feta sauce with your vegetables. The croutons will stay crunchier the larger they are, but I like how small ones find their way into the tangle of vegetables. It’s a great light summer salad, both satisfying and refreshing. Sweet 100 tomatoes are a specific line item here, because they are tiny and have incredible flavor. Yes, any smaller tomato will be fine, but this tomato-focused salad really shines when you work with some great ones.

Summer Panzanella Salad excerpted from Around Our Table by Sara Forte.

Summer Panzanella Salad

Sara Forte
CHANGE IT UP:
Vegan: Forget the feta sauce, and add some crispy chickpeas and torn olives for heft. 
To make it more of a meal, add shredded roasted chicken, grilled shrimp, or salmon. 
Salad Crunchies
MAKES 2 CUPS / 112 g
Also known as tiny croutons. They’re excellent as a soup topper or on top of roasted vegetables or a Caesar salad for a bit of texture. The point is that we don’t want it to be di cult to eat or rip up the roof of your mouth, so I pulse the bread in a processor. In the right circumstance, a sprinkle of grated Parm on these straight out of the oven is lovely.
INGREDIENTS: 
• 1/2 of a country loaf, torn
• 3 tablespoons / 45 ml extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
PREPARATION:
1) Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
2) Put the torn bread into a food processor and give it about 3 to 6 pulses to get small pieces. Drizzle on the oil, seasoning, salt, and pepper and give them another pulse or two until the bread is lightly coated. Transfer the crumbs to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes until golden, shaking the pan halfway through. They will crisp up as they cool.
3) Crunchies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
To make regular croutons, instead of blitzing the bread in a food processor, just discard the tough ends and cut or rip the loaf into imperfect, 1-inch / 2.5 cm cubes. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Toss the cubes in enough olive oil to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the croutons in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10-ish minutes. Remove to cool and crisp. They will keep in a covered container for up to 3 days.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the Whipped Feta:

  • 3/4 cup (168 grams) plain, whole milk yogurt
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) sheep’s milk feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (5 grams) chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 bulb of fennel, trimmed
  • 1 pint (300 grams) sweet 100 tomatoes, halved
  • 2 peaches, pitted and diced
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly shaved
  • 2 cups fresh croutons from the Salad Crunchies recipe (above)
  • Handful of roughly chopped flatleaf parsley + more for garnish
  • Handful of basil, julienned + more for garnish
  • Flaky salt, to finish

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, mix together the shallot, grated garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • For the whipped feta, in a food processor, combine the yogurt, feta cheese, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whiz until smooth, adding more lemon juice or olive oil if the mixture appears too thick to move. Set aside.
  • Shave the fennel bulb thinly on a mandoline and add to the bowl along with the tomatoes, peaches, and cucumbers. Toss everything to coat in the dressing. Toss the croutons, parsley, and basil in with the vegetables.
  • To assemble, smear the whipped feta in the bottom of each bowl (or in one large, low, serving bowl). Top with the panzanella and garnish with parsley, basil, and flaky salt.

Notes

Around Our Table by Sara Forte (© 2024). Photographs by Hugh Forte. Published by Hardie Grant Publishing.Recipe reprinted with permission from Around Our Table by Sara Forte (Hardie Grant Publishing, 2024).  
Keyword Around Our Table, Basil, Croutons, Dijon mustard, fennel, feta cheese, Garlic, Lemon, Parsley, peaches, Persian cucumbers, Sara Forte, Sea salt, Shallot, Tomatoes, Whole milk yogurt

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