Croutons are high up on my list of favorite salad toppings. There is something about crunchy bread moistened by a tangy vinaigrette that I'm crazy about. Naturally, I'm a huge fan of bread salads or panzanella as they are known in Italy. A classic summer side, this salad with its fresh tomatoes, herbs, and crisped green beans, pairs nicely with grilled poultry and fish. It would also complement a plate of lemony, seafood pasta or a platter of deli meats and gourmet cheeses. If you don't have champagne vinegar, use white wine vinegar instead. Make this scrumptious salad this weekend, get the recipe,
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 pound baby zucchini or regular zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound small ripe tomatoes, such as cocktail or cherry, halved
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces ciabatta (about 1/2 loaf), torn into 1-inch pieces
- Combine vinegar and shallot in a bowl; set aside to let shallot soften.
- Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and green beans, and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer green beans to ice-water bath.
- Add zucchini to boiling water, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer zucchini to ice-water bath. Let cool, then drain.
- Toss green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumber in a large bowl.
- Add mustards, herbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to shallot mixture. Add 1/4 cup oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified.
- Pour vinaigrette over vegetables, and toss. Let stand at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. (Vegetables can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil, and toss. Toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Add croutons to salad, and toss. Let stand 1 hour before serving so that croutons can soften. If you prefer your croutons crisp, add them to the salad just before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.