Dish of the Week: Autumn Panzanella

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re bringing putting a seasonal spin on a classic Panzanella Salad.

Also known as panmolle, panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad in which chunks of stale bread are brought to life by a soak in water and a toss in vinaigrette alongside with onions, tomatoes, and herbs.

Dating back centuries, the dish was likely invented as a way to use old bread, as Italians believed in wasting nothing. Though tomatoes have taken on a starring role today, onions and cucumbers were more likely to be incorporated in its original iteration, as described in a poem by 16th century artist Bronzino.

Other additions can include mixed greens, basil, peppers, mozzarella, capers, tuna, olives boiled eggs, and garlic, to name a few.

But instead of traditional Italian ingredients, this recipe is full of fall flavor. Hunks of bread and cherry tomatoes are mixed with chopped apples, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and greens before being tossed in a honey-balsamic vinaigrette.

Autumn Panzanella 

Ingredients serves 6
1 small French bread or boule, torn into 1-inch pieces (6 cups)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
3 cups baby arugula, kale or spinach leaves
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 oz sharp cheddar or cheddar curds, cubed (optional)

For the dressing:
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and coat lightly with olive oil. Add chopped or torn bread to pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, tossing, until golden brown and crisp on all sides. Alternatively, you can dress cubes and bake in a single layer at 400 degrees until crisp, about 12-15 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together honey, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add in croutons and remaining salad ingredients and toss to combine. Allow to rest so the croutons soften from the dressing before serving.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano