This Italian peach panzanella is a bread salad with peaches, tomatoes, red onions, basil, mint, burrata, and garlicky ciabatta for a quick summer salad.
So many simple dishes bursting with flavor come out of Italy. Panzanella bread salads are native to the Tuscan countryside and likely originated with farmers harvesting what was fresh in the fields – tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil – and tossing it with leftover bread. Nothing was wasted at that time. The bread is moistened by both the tomato juices and vinaigrette drizzled on at the end, but if the bread is really stale, it was common practice to soak the bread a bit so that it could be pulled apart before adding it to the vegetables.
My twist on it is to add peaches to the tomatoes, a bunch of red onion, and mint. For the stale bread, I toast ciabatta bread with olive oil and garlic to make large garlic croutons, and tear shards of burrata to add at the end. It’s so fresh and easy with the flavors of summer. But you can make panzanella all year long. I make it in autumn with squash, with eggplant in late summer, and broccoli in winter. The secret is to use peak season vegetables and lots of yummy garlic croutons.
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup white balsamic vinegar - I used one that's peach flavored
- ½ loaf of ciabatta bread, torn in 1½" cubes (about 6 cups)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 ripe peaches, pitted, and sliced ½-inch thick (about 4 cups)
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- ¼ cup torn basil leaves, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup torn mint leaves, plus more for serving
- 2 handfuls of arugula or your favorite lettuce (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- 1 8-ounce ball of burrata cheese
- Place the red onion in a small bowl with the vinegar, and macerate for 30 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, toss the bread pieces with ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, and salt together to completely coat the bread pieces. Lay out on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes until well-browned; turn over and broil for another 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, gently toss together the bread, peaches, tomatoes, basil, mint, and greens (if using).
- Whisk together the sherry vinegar with the remaining ¼ cup olive oil.
- Just before serving, add the cheese and a last flourish of mint and basil.
This week at SundaySupper, we’re celebrating peaches to get ready for National Peach Month in August, and to celebrate National Peach Ice Cream Day on July 17 (yes, it’s a thing). Huge thanks to Sue Lau at A Palatable Pastime blog for hosting us this week!
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