Lately, I've been all about simplifying. Maybe it's my recent move back to Philly, or maybe it's the weather, but these days I find myself trying to find ways to keep it simple. In moving, this meant purging clothes and clutter. In the kitchen, this has meant keeping a fridge with just enough food for the week (no waste!) and meals that aren't overly complicated.
Which of course leads me to this delicious avocado panzanella salad. If you're not familiar, panzanella is a simple Italian salad made with stale bread, tomatoes, and a few other ingredients. I first had it in San Gimignano, Italy, as part of a gorgeous rustic lunch spread overlooking the Tuscan hillside.
My version includes delicious California avocados, which make this salad even more healthy by adding good-for-you fats and over 20 vitamins and minerals. Plus, avocados are just mighty tasty, if you ask me! Combine these lovely green fruits with tomatoes, basil, a splash of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic, and salt & pepper and you've got yourself the perfect summer time salad! Bring it to your Fourth of July celebration or your family BBQ. It comes together quickly and is sure to be a hit!
Avocado Panzanella Salad
serves 6 (as a side dish)
- 4 cups stale 1" bread pieces, torn or cubed (see note)
- 4 plum tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 small sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia)
- 2 avocados
- 1 small bunch of basil (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- the juice of half a lemon
- salt and pepper
**note on stale bread: You can use bread that has been stale for up to a week. If you're starting with fresh bread and crunched for time, heat an oven to 500F, spread the cubed fresh bread on a baking sheet and bake until dried out and just golden.
- Add bread pieces to a large bowl. If you're using super stale bread, soak in water for 30 seconds. Drain and lightly squeeze out some of the water. If you squeeze too hard, you'll smush the bread and ruin the texture.
- Chop tomatoes and add them to the bread pieces. Toss and allow to sit.
- Peel the cucumber and chop into small pieces. Add to the bread and tomatoes.
- Slice the onions super thin using a knife or a mandolin. Add to the bread mixture.
- Chiffonade or tear the basil and add to bread mixture.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, and balsamic. Whisk to combine, pour over the bread and veggies and toss to thoroughly combine.
- Cut the avocados, remove the pits and cube the avocado meat. Place into a small bowl and toss with the lemon juice to coat. Add to the bread mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Disclosure: I received a box of California avocados from the California Avocado Commission, which were used in this recipe. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions, dream Tuscan picnic experiences, and views expressed are entirely my own.