*Smarty Note: You can find more of Erin’s recipes on her website, www.campbrighton.com .
If you are looking for an amazing salad that can stand alone as a meal, make this panzanella salad with salmon. This salad will come together quickly, it looks lovely, and everyone will rave about it. I promise. A nice thing about a panzanella salad is that they like to sit for 30 minutes or so to absorb all the flavors. Chit chat with your kids, have a glass of wine, and then serve this masterpiece.
If you have never had a panzanella salad, you are missing out. Panzanella is a Tuscan chopped salad that basically contains huge chunks of soaked bread, tomatoes, basil, red onion, and any other traditional salad ingredients – think about your favorite fresh and simple salad with extra large croutons! Aren’t croutons kind of the best part of the salad?
I first learned how to make this salad at an Italian cooking class that I took with friends shortly after I moved to Cleveland. Just married, no kids, I coordinated cooking classes for people new to the area – I didn’t teach the classes, I just set them up! It was a great way to meet new people and, of course, gain some cooking skills.
Lots of recipes have been set aside over the years, but this one has stood the test of time. Super easy. Everyone loves it – adults and kids. I have been making it ever since that Italian cooking class and I make it a little bit differently every time. There are no rules.
In any panzanella salad, one of your most delicious components better be the PAN – or bread – right? If you are gluten-free, like myself and my twins, you are going to want to make your own amazing croutons. SO EASY. You will never go back to store bought. For this salmon panzanella salad, I used Glutino multigrain bread to make our croutons. Yum. If you are not gluten-free, homemade croutons work really well with a baguette or a loaf of sourdough.
There are four easy steps you need to do to get this salad ready – 1.) make the croutons, 2.) cook the salmon (you can even do it the night before), 3.) chop the rest of the salad veggies and, 4.) whisk together the salad dressing.
- Make the Croutons:
Cut your bread into large chunks and toss the bread with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and Italian dried herbs. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them and remove from the oven when they look a little bit crispy. Set aside.
- Prepare The Salmon:
For this panzanella salad, my daughter prepared one previously frozen salmon filet (thanks, Costco!) covering the salmon with salt, garlic, rosemary, and some lemon. Wrap your salmon in aluminum foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
You can certainly make a panzanella salad without salmon, but the addition of salmon makes this salad main course appropriate!
- Chop The Veggies:
For the rest of the ingredients, think traditionally! Crispy romaine lettuce, large chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers, thin slices of red onion. For an unexpected kick, add capers or sauteed mushrooms. Such a delicious addition! And, since it is radish season here, we added thinly sliced radishes.
- Whisk The Dressing:
For the salad dressing, whisk together, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, ½ lemon (squeezed), 3 cloves of garlic (crushed), and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Use less garlic if you prefer less.
Panzanella Salad With Salmon
1 filet of salmon, baked
6-8 slices of bread or one baguette, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce
1 – 2 tomatoes
1 English cucumber
¼ to ½ red onion, sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons capers (optional)
1 small bunch basil
1 few radishes, sliced (optional)
8 oz mushrooms, sautéed (optional)
Combine all of the ingredients in one large bowl. Toss gently with the dressing. Let sit for about 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!