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!