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,

Summer Bread Salad
From Martha Stewart
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3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
Coarse salt
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

  1. Combine vinegar and shallot in a bowl; set aside to let shallot soften.
  2. 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.
  3. Add zucchini to boiling water, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer zucchini to ice-water bath. Let cool, then drain.
  4. Toss green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumber in a large bowl.
  5. Add mustards, herbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to shallot mixture. Add 1/4 cup oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.