If you need to hit the Refresh button on your salad routine, this BLT Panzanella Salad will make your day! Bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, crusty toasted bread, and sharp cheddar make this bread salad an unforgettable summer meal!
I get to a point every summer where I’m just about bursting at the seams with anticipation of our homegrown summer tomatoes. It’s bad.
And it’s especially bad this year since my tomato plants are only now just starting to flower. We started them from seed months ago, put the seedlings in the ground, and they almost didn’t make it.
I almost lost it. I figured that we fertilized them waaay too early because the poor little leaves started spotting, almost as if they were burned.
But alas, with plenty of water and heat (lord knows we’re set in that department this summer), they are flourishing now.
We have 16 Brandywine plants in the back yard and 12 Bonny Best in the front yard (we literally ran out of garden space in the back yard). And I suspect August and September will be delicious months for us!
Which will be a perfect problem to have, as far as I’m concerned. It means plenty of these pesto-bacon-tomato sandwiches, tarts like this one with a basil garlic crust, fresh tomato pizza, frozen sauce, and more of this BLT panzanella salad.
What is Panzanella?
Panzanella is the Italian term for a bread salad. This type of salad came out of the need to use up day-old bread before it got too stale to use at all.
The bread is cut into cubes and either oven-toasted to sautéed quickly with some butter in a frying pan to toast them up.
Then the croutons are tossed with salad ingredients and some dressing to make one fantastic crunchy salad.
What’s a BLT Panzanella Salad?
BLT is the abbreviation for Bacon Lettuce Tomato, and which usually refers to a sandwich with those ingredients. But why not a BLT salad?
Because adding bacon to a crouton-y bread salad? I’m all over it!
To simplify things a little, I grilled the bacon at the same time the croutons were baking, making clean-up easy and to help justify using the oven in the middle of the summer.
I also added a little shredded cheddar to the salad because I love a slice of sharp cheese on my BLT sandwiches.
To top off the salad, I drizzled on a little ranch dressing mostly because it was already made but also because I’m running out of room on the fridge door in the designated dressing area with all of the dressings I’ve been making.
I knew I’d love this salad from the start (and I did) and the slightly skeptical Kyle also scarfed it down (plus seconds) once he realized what a silly boy he was for judging a salad by its cover. Stick with me, kid, stick with me.
Adding Extra Protein
If you want to add some extra protein to this salad to fill it out a little, feel free to add some chicken (grilled, leftover roast, or whatever you have), grilled shrimp, or some salmon.
More Panzanella Salads
- 1 small baguette
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 6 oz bacon
- 1 heart of Romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, and chopped (about 3-4 cups)
- 2-3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Cut the baguette up into 1-inch cubes and scatter the pieces out on a baking sheet. Drizzle the butter over the bread cubes, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and toss them around with your fingers to evenly coat with the butter, salt, and pepper. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the bacon out on the parchment paper.
- Transfer both baking sheets to the oven. Bake the bread cubes for 6-8 minutes, tossing once or twice during that time, until the cubes are starting to brown and turn crispy. Remove them from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack. Continue to bake the bacon for another 5-7 minutes, or until it reaches your desired level of crispness. Carefully remove the pan from the oven (the bacon fat will slosh around in the pan and could splatter) and transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cool enough to handle, break the bacon up into ½-inch or so pieces.
- In a large serving bowl, toss the chopped lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, bacon, and cheese together. Serve in individual bowls or family style with your choice of dressing on the side.
adapted from Everyday Annie
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