I can’t believe it’s already almost September. I mean, is it just me, or did this Summer completely fly by? And while I’m ready for Fall flavors (hello cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, ginger CANNOT WAIT), I’m going to miss all these light Summer flavors too. In the Summer I love to grill, eat fresh veggies, and summer salads. And, guys, this Pesto Caprese Panzanella Salad is easily my favorite salad we’ve made. Hearty, yet light, zesty, and packed full of flavor, this easy summer salad has been my go-to all summer long to bring to parties or whip up for some friends.
It’s super easy to make, only requires a few ingredients, and is a serious flavor explosion.
So, what is a panzanella salad?
Panzanella is a Tuscan Summer salad usually made with soaked bread cubes, onions, and tomatoes. The combo of fresh tomatoes with toasted bread and a delicious dressing make this one of my favorite salads, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to a leaf heavy salad. Of course, we had to put our own spin on a classic panzanella salad, and make a pesto caprese panzanella….and yes, it is as tasty as it sounds.
We decided to add fresh mozzarella to our pesto caprese panzanella salad because…duh. And drizzle the whole thing with pesto because it’s my fav summer flavor and we always have a jar handy in the fridge or freezer.
How to make homemade pesto:
We’ve been on a pesto roll, and I don’t see us slowing down any time soon. We’ve just been harvesting our basil plant like mad people because it’s going to get cold soon and die. Very sad, I know. Buuuuuut, in the meantime we’ll make the most of it with all this homemade pesto. Simply toss all your ingredients in a food processor and you’ll have a tasty homemade pesto perfect for a variety of fun different recipes.
How to store pesto caprese panzanella salad:
A trick question for you! This salad is best when eaten fresh and doesn’t keep very well in the fridge, as the bread get’s soggy and starts to fall apart. Our suggestion? Only toss as much as you’re planning on eating with the salad dressing and set the rest aside for another night, keeping the bread cubes separate.
One of my favorite things about this Pesto Caprese Panzanella Salad is that you can prep a lot of things in advance. Make your pesto ahead of time and toast your bread well before you make this salad. Then the panzanella will come together in under 20 minutes! SCORE!
I’ll just be soaking up these last days of Summer on our back patio with Tilly, a beer, and this delicious summer salad.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Halve the tomatoes and place in a colander over a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and allow to drain for at least 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. The tomato juices will drain into the bowl, which you’ll use to make the salad dressing.
While the tomatoes drain, toss the bread cubes with 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl to evenly coat them. Place the bread cubes on prepared baking sheet and spread out into one layer. Toast for 15 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and crisp, but not brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
Remove the colander with the tomatoes from the bowl and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil (5 tablespoons) and red wine vinegar to the tomato juice and whisk constantly until homogenous. Season with salt and pepper.
When you are ready to serve your salad, place the toasted bread, tomatoes, and torn mozzarella in the large bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the dressing.