Summer on a Plate: Panzanella Salad with Beans

By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

I discovered panzanella salad last summer and was instantly in love. It's filling, versatile, and it's beautiful on a plate. This traditional Italian salad is meant for summer when tomatoes are at their peak, so don't even try to attempt this with less-than-stellar tomatoes or you'll be disappointed with the results.

For this version, I used the green onions and red leaf lettuce from our CSA (community sponsored agriculture) share along with some market fresh vegetables and a day old loaf of multi-grain bread from our local bakery. The beans I added as an afterthought since I had just cooked some up the night before, but it was a great call. A hearty and filling salad? Totally! And it's vegan too, so it's a win.

The only trick with this salad is to make what you will eat for that meal because leftovers turn soggy quickly. What I like to do is prepare the dressing ahead - often making a double batch so that I can make this salad quickly whenever the urge strikes. And trust me, the urge will be often. Is it embarrassing that I ate this 3 days in a row? It's that good.

Panzanella Salad with Beans
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
4-6 small tomatoes, seeded & diced
1 cup cooked beans

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t aleppo pepper

1 head of lettuce
1 cup fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
1/2 loaf of day-old peasant bread, cubed

In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.

In a small jar, give the next 5 ingredients a good shake. Pour the dressing over top of the vegetable/bean mixture and let flavors mingle for 10 minutes.

Toss in the lettuce, basil and bread. Give everything a good toss and serve immediately.

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