August 27, 2009

Ina's Greek Panzanella

The first time I made Panzanella, I thought, "Where has this been all my life?" My mom tried it and said, "This is like all the best parts of the salad without any of the boring lettuce!" While lettuce has it's place, I'll admit I'm still extra fond of panzanella. So when I watched Ina make a Greek version, it took all self control to refrain from running to the store and making it right then, in the middle of nap time. I held off until Monday so we could put in our Greek dinner for my brother's birthday. It was simple and delicious and even all those boys gobbled it down. I made a huge recipe and there wasn't a piece left over. With peppers and tomatoes on sale all over right now, I'm sure I'll be making it again soon.

A few tips that will make this salad extra special:
*Use English cucumbers so you don't have to peel them- the color will look better too (wish I had had these, but they were three times the cost so I just had to deal with the regulars!)
*Use two plastic lids (from deli or tupperware containers) to cut the cherry tomatoes- just fill one to the rim with tomatoes, invert the second lid and set on top of the other, and use a serrated knife to saw through them while applying a little pressure on top. Takes all of 30 seconds to cut a whole pint.
*Good feta is vital! Yes feta has a unique taste, but it shouldn't taste rotten (like the cheap kind usually does to me). Try Trader Joe's for a Greek made feta stored in brine. It tastes like the real deal.
*Watch the bread closely. Don't go check your email while it's toasting. It's a good thing I'd bought two loaves since I had to completely start over and didn't quite get the burnt smell out before the party... oops!

Greek Panzanella
from Ina Garten

Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.

Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.


  1. Anne !!!
    Ok, I think you can officially call me your blog stalker lady...... I squealed when I saw you had a new post....... I know...I really need to get out more.
    I have never ever tried panzanella and have always wanted to !!
    This is being printed as I type and hopefully I can post about it and link back to you next week.

  2. This salad is so beautiful and looks so tasty.

    I really HATE being allergic to tomatoes!

  3. I can't wait to try this version! Ina's Panzanella is one of our absolute favorite things. We have it all the time.
    The greek flavors are superb, I bet.
    Thanks Anne!

  4. We make her regular Panzanella all the time..summer or winter. We need to try the Greek version. Looks great!

  5. Queen- I hope you love it- it's easy and so delicious I ate two whole platefuls, lol.

    Jennifer- I can't believe you're allergic to tomatoes, that's horrible! My husband can't eat them because of some stomach issues but I still make them for myself occasionally. I'm sure this would still be tasty without them, though!

  6. Oh! I saw her make this the other day on her show! Looks wonderful, I've never had panzanella before.

  7. Once I discovered English cucumbers a few years ago, I've not bought any other kind of cucumber - so good!

    Love this dish! :D

  8. Oooh, good tip on cutting the tomatoes!

    This does look good, and no boring lettuce, LOL.

  9. So glad to hear what you had to say about this- I saw her make it recently. I wondered if I would like it better than her old panzanella recipe. In fact, I had panzanella a couple days ago in a restaurant and they only used heirloom tomatoes, the crusty croutons and a vinaigrette. I like more "stuff" in mine.

  10. I thought the exact same thing the first time I made panzanella. I love it. A greek version sounds tasty.

  11. I have never heard of the lid thing for cutting tomatoes but that is such a good idea. That is such a good idea. Reading that is definitely the highlight of my day. Admittedly a pretty rough day but still the best part of it by far.

  12. Anne, your food always looks so good :) I have something I think you will really enjoy. It is a new show on the Food Network called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" First of all his food looks like it would be soooo yummy (who knew he was a cook?). Second, the guys is hilariously entertaining. If you have the Food Network, check it out.

  13. This looks incredible, Anne! I've been eyeing Ina's panzanella for a while; now I know that I have to make it immediately. The salad is beautiful, and who needs all that boring lettuce, anyway?

  14. Anne, you don't need to wait to have a baby. Go get your toes done and get black! It will make you feel quite swishy. Do the nails too. (Love the panzanella, by the way. How old can the bread be?)

  15. YUM. I made this tonight, and it was YUM! The fam died of YUM. :o) And I accidentally didn't have any red wine vinegar, so I used white balsamic, and it was still so YUM! And my feta was Rawlins, WY feta, but the salad was still so good. So, I can't even imagine what yumminess would be involved if I had all the fancy schmancy stuff!