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Panzanella Salad

This light and refreshing Panzanella salad can be prepared a day ahead of time and is wonderful to serve at barbecues, picnics, and other casual gatherings.

Yield: 8-10 portions

Degree of difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 30 minutes prep, 1 hour to proof the dough

Bake Time: 50 minutes total

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

For the Focaccia Croutons:

1 pouch Cup4Cup Pizza Crust Mix

1 yeast packet (included in the Pizza Crust Mix)

1 cup warm water

1 egg

¼ cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)

For the Panzanella salad:

3 cloves garlic, very finely minced

½ cup (110 grams) extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup (82 grams) balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon (10 grams) Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces (227 grams) multicolor cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup (113 grams) English cucumber, cut into ¾ inch dice

1 cup (85 grams) sweet red onion, cut into ½ inch dice

12 large basil leaves, torn into ½ inch pieces

1 cup Italian parsley leaves picked

Instructions

For the Focaccia Croutons:

  1. Combine the Cup4Cup Pizza Crust Mix with the yeast packet in a large bowl. Add the water and egg and mix together with a fork. The dough will be crumbly.
  2. Knead the dough into a smooth ball.
  3. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. While the dough is in the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Line a ¼ sheet pan with parchment paper.
  6. Pour about 2/3 of the grapeseed oil into the pan.
  7. Gently press the dough into the pan until it’s about 5/8 inch thick. It’s OK if the dough does not go edge to edge or looks imperfect.
  8. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining grapeseed oil.
  9. Allow the dough to proof in a warm area for about 30 minutes.
  10. Bake the focaccia in the center of your oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove the focaccia from the oven and allow to cool until you are able to handle it. Leave the oven on.
  12. Dice the Focaccia into 1 inch cubes then transfer to a baking sheet.
  13. Bake the croutons for an additional 20 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the Panzanella Salad:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  2. Add the focaccia croutons and toss well so that the vinaigrette is distributed evenly and well absorbed.
  3. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and toss well. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Before serving gently add the herbs and toss together.