Remember panzanella? To be honest, it kind of fell off my radar until several weeks ago when I was brainstorming several side dishes to bring to a family gathering. I had other categories and ingredients well represented but I needed one more filling yet seasonal dish to fill in the blanks, when I recalled that 1) panzanella was a thing, and 2) it was, in fact, just the thing for this particular gathering. One of my goals was to highlight beautiful stone fruit but also to present it in an unexpected way, and the broad strokes of this dish were drawn. Then a few minutes of texting with my bestie later and we had it: panzanella with peaches or nectarines, fresh mozzarella, arugula pesto, and sliced red onion. Simple, seasonal, beautiful, and satisfying.

This went over just as well as I had hoped and I absolutely love this dish! I really enjoyed hearing one of the teenagers present say, “I’ve never heard of a bread salad before” (I know, right?!) and then proceed to enjoy a decent helping of it. Andrew was particularly over the moon this past weekend when I recreated it in order to share the recipe with you.

Given the common pairing of peaches (nectarines’ cousins) with prosciutto, adding in some chopped prosciutto is a great idea. In fact, I did it the first time around and simply forgot to add it this time. Particularly if you are serving meat lovers, that’s a excellent way to go. Even beyond that, there are oh so many ways you could riff on this recipe. Add in some fresh mint in exchange for part of the arugula, use a traditional basil pesto instead, top with a balsamic vinaigrette, opt for feta or burrata in place of the mozzarella… Just make it! And then let me know what version you made. The recipe is easily doubled but if you do so, make sure you use a second baking sheet for the larger quantity of croutons. Crowding will trap steam and prevent them from browning evenly so be mindful of that. Keep in mind that many of the components (pesto, croutons, sliced things) can be prepped in advance and then assembled when ready to serve, making this very adaptable to your particular needs. Enjoy, and happy Labor Day weekend!

  • Prep 30 minutes
  • Cook 18-20 minutes
  • Yield 8 servings


For the pesto:

    1 packed cup arugula leaves, roughly chopped
    1 clove garlic, finely grated or pressed
    ¼ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
    6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    1.75 oz. Parmesan, finely grated
    Kosher salt

For the salad:

    8 oz. day-old country or sourdough bread
    3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    ½ red onion, thinly sliced
    1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
    3 nectarines, pitted and sliced
    4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into small chunks
    2 oz. thinly sliced and chopped prosciutto (optional)

For the dressing:

    1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
    1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
    4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  • 01

    To make the pesto, add the arugula, garlic, walnuts, and half of the olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse repeatedly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed to help ensure even chopping. When the solid ingredients are fairly finely chopped, transfer the whole mixture to a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan and a pinch of salt. If the mixture is too dry, add in more of the olive oil until you reach the desired texture (I like the full amount for this particular recipe.) Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Placing something like plastic wrap directly against the surface of the pesto while stored will prevent oxidation and help retain the bright green color.)

  • 02

    To make the croutons, heat the oven to 400˚ F. Carefully slice the crust off the bread, being careful to preserve as much of the inside of the loaf as possible. Slice into 1-inch thick slices, then into inch-wide stripes, and then tear each strip into 1-inch chunks. Place in a bowl and combine with the olive oil; toss to coat evenly. Spread the croutons out on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes total, checking them after about 8 minutes. Flip the croutons as needed to brown evenly on all sides, continuing to check them every few minutes and flipping again. (I prefer to use tongs to flip them so I can control the browning of each individual crouton, like the control freak I am.) The pieces at the edges typically brown faster and I remove those from the oven sooner while those in the center of the pan finish baking. Set the pan aside and let the croutons cool completely. (Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.)

  • 03

    To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegars, olive oil, salt and pepper in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk to mix well.

  • 04

    To assemble the salad, combine the sliced onion and vinegar in a small bowl. Toss to combine, then let sit for 20 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine three quarters of the croutons with most of the vinaigrette, reserving a couple of tablespoons, and let sit to soften the croutons slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced onion, remaining croutons, nectarines, mozzarella, and prosciutto (if using) to the bowl. Add in a couple spoonfuls of the arugula pesto. Mix gently but thoroughly until everything is evenly combined. Taste and add remaining vinaigrette as needed. Transfer to a serving dish and dot the top with small spoonfuls of the arugula pesto (I typically use most but not all of it.) Serve.