A Tuscan bread salad made with toasted sourdough bread, fresh veggies, roasted red peppers, white beans, and fragrant herbs in a bright, lemony dressing (190 calories or 4 WW points).
This post is sponsored by Grain Foods Foundation.
This vegetarian panzanella salad is a showstopper in so many ways—it’s seasonal, beautiful, and full of flavor and texture, with ripe tomatoes, sweet roasted red peppers, peppery arugula, fresh parsley and basil, and cubes of toasted sourdough bread. Adding canned white beans boosts the protein and staying power, but you could seamlessly swap them for chopped rotisserie chicken if you aren’t vegetarian. As for the vinaigrette, it’s simple: lemon, garlic, salt, and olive oil.
To soften the bite of the fresh garlic in the vinaigrette, you’ll mince it as finely as you can, combine it with the salt and fresh lemon juice, and then let that mixture sit while you toast the bread and prepare the veggies. You’ll whisk in the olive oil just before pouring it onto the panzanella salad.
Now, bread is the base of any panzanella salad. It’s what elevates it from light side salad to substantial main course. But if you’re hesitant to include bread in your salads—or your life—I get it. I’m prone to black-and-white thinking, too, especially when it comes to food and health, and especially these days, when carbs aren’t viewed in the most favorable light. From my own experience though, which now includes a number of periods in which I cut out carbs completely, the feeling of restriction only led me to obsessively think about the food I was missing…and eventually binge on them at one point or another. It’s my own cautionary tale of going carb-free. If you can relate, then maybe we should consider that finding a way to fit all of our favorite foods into our lives and diets is sometimes the most beneficial thing we can do for our mental and physical health. #YesToBread
Now, why sourdough? Two reasons, actually. First, the flavor. Sourdough has an unmistakable (and irresistible) yeasty tang to it, so it complements all of the refreshing Mediterranean flavors here. Second, since sourdough has a thick, chewy crust and a somewhat sturdy structure, it can hold up to the moisture of the other ingredients. Yes, it will soften and absorb more of the dressing over time, but it won’t turn to mush like a more delicate white bread would.
Sourdough Panzanella Salad with Roasted Red Peppers and White Beans
- 4 cups cubed sourdough bread3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilSalt and pepper3 tablespoons lemon juice1 garlic clove very finely minced 1 large ripe tomato, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces4 jarred roasted red peppers (packed in water), chopped½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (any small white bean)2 cups arugula¼ cup chopped fresh basil¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, and ⅛ teaspoon (a pinch) salt. Let the mixture stand while you toast the bread.
- On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, spread them out, and bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before adding to the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, roasted peppers, cucumber, beans, arugula, basil, and parsley. Add toasted bread cubes to the bowl with vegetables. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the lemon-garlic mixture and add it to the salad. Toss and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.