panzanella, no tomatoes necessary.

July 22, 2014

panzanella My very favorite part of summer produce are the heirloom tomatoes. No doubt I’m not alone in this. I can eat a juicy summer tomato in the same way I eat a peach—teeth breaking the thin skin, pink juice dribbling down my chin and wrists. A good summer tomato requires little more than a pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil to turn it into a meal. And if you’ve been reading these tea leaves for awhile, you’ll know that the faster a meal comes together, the happpier I am.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that yesterday I found myself with a loaf of past-its-prime bread and no juicy August tomatoes to turn it into a lip-smacking panzanella. I was gearing up for a sad dinner of French toast when I remembered a slender bulb of July fennel tucked into the crisper.

Like any modern woman faced with half an idea for dinner, I turned to my friend Google and began to type:


Why I google as though not equipped with a proper command of the English language, I don’t know. But, abracadabra! The spell worked and a recipe I found. I strapped Faye into her stroller, wheeled her down the street to pick up what I could remember of the list I left behind and came home to make a dinner that turned out to be quick and delicious and worthy of sharing here.
panzanella Radicchio, fennel, and a bunch of flat-leaf parsley for a pre-peak-tomato-season panzanella. panzanella If there’s nothing else that appeals about this recipe, the lemon zest added to the croutons will. So simple and such a game-changer.panzanella The result? A salad that tastes like someone tossed the antipasti plate into a bowl and called it dinner. Pasti? panzanella Fennel, Radicchio, and Olive Panzanella

Adapted from this recipe from Bon Appetit. Slight changes based on what I happened to have at home, what I remembered to buy on my trip to the grocery store, and what I like best.

3/4 loaf of day-old baguette (or whatever bread you happen to have), cubed
zest of one lemon
olive oil to taste (lots)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
1 small head radicchio, torn into pieces
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, removed from stems and roughly chopped (don’t skimp)
1/2 cup or so pitted green olives, halved if you care to bother
shaved Manchego to taste (I used about an 1/8 of a pound)

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Toss cubed bread with the lemon zest and a generous drizzle of olive oil (really coat those cubes); season with salt and pepper. Bake until crispy, making sure to jiggle the pan occasionally. Allow to cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix red onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for shallot instead of onion, red wine vinegar, and fresh oregano. I had none of these, but feel free to add them here if your heart desires. If you’d like to use vinegar, cut the amount of lemon juice by half.

3. Add chopped radicchio, fennel, parsely, olives, and a hearty portion of shaved cheese. (Hard salami could be added here for meat-lovers.) Toss to combine. Taste and add another squeeze of lemon or drizzle of olive oil as you desire (I finished by adding the juice of a second lemon). Chill.

4. Remember hours—even a day—later that you’ve got dinner in the fridge and serve.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Linda Zimmerman July 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    omg- just had a similar salad on Sat. night (with tomatoes and cucumbers) and the whole time I was eating it, I thought, this would be divine with fennel!!!…and here it is. I cannot wait to make this salad at home…. a trip to Cole's is on my list this week!!! Thank you for sharing this version.

  • Reply Jenny @ BAKE July 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I am so excited by this recipe! I love the look of panzanella but have a tomato intolerance so have never been able to indulge! I will definitely be making this recipe in the next week!

    • Reply Erin July 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Hope you enjoy it! (Don't skimp on the olives or cheese!)

  • Reply Joanna Goddard July 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    this looks delicious!

    • Reply Erin July 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      You guys should try it! So briney and good!

  • Reply July 22, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    oh my goodness the heirloom tomatoes at our farmer's market are unbelievable! though this looks fabulous too!

    • Reply Erin July 22, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Can't wait for them all to come to New York!

  • Reply Jill Sarah July 22, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Great recipe! I never know what to do with fennel!

    • Reply Erin July 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      It was so good in this: the perfect crunch and extra little layer of flavor!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic July 23, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Thanks for the recipe! The croutons look especially good. I like quick meals too, especially because the longer I spend in the kitchen, the more likely something is going to catch on fire.

  • Reply Jillian July 23, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Yes! This looks great!

  • Reply Rachel July 23, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    You're making me hungry!! Thanks for sharing!


  • Reply Sweet Love and Ginger July 24, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    I cannot get my fiance on the raw fennel bandwagon, but perhaps If I roasted it first it might take. Excellent recipe though.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.