High up on the list of dishes that impress in both presentation and flavor yet require very little effort is panzanella. This bread salad — fashioned from day-old bread, along with a slew of ingredients including tomatoes, herbs, and dressing — is a summer meal that can be stretched to feed many.
All of these reasons make it food for a gathering — especially a casual one on the porch, where friends drop by for a bite to eat and a glass or two of wine. This panzanella riffs off of Greek salad; it's studded with briny Kalamata olives and feta cheese, and tossed with an herby lemon vinaigrette.
Front Porch Eats
As soon as summer obliges, the front porch transforms into our favorite room in the house. It becomes the gathering place for casual get-togethers, lingering conversation at sunset, and meals meant for sharing. The recipes in this series were made with those moments in mind. So the next time you head to your porch, stoop, or patio, give one of these dishes a try.
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano leaves
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Slice or tear the bread into 1-inch cubes. (You will need 8 to 10 very full cups.) Spread the bread cubes over a baking sheet. Leave uncovered overnight to stale and harden. (Alternatively, bake in a 300°F oven until hardened on the outside but still slightly soft in the middle, stirring once or twice during baking, 15 to 20 minutes.)
Thinly slice the onion and soak in a bowl of cold water for 10 to 15 minutes while assembling the rest of the salad.
Cut the tomatoes into large bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop the olives and add to the bowl; set aside.
Make the vinaigrette: Combine the oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a jam jar. Cover and shake vigorously to combine. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.)
Drain the onions and add to the bowl of tomatoes. Add the bread, pour the vinaigrette over top, and toss to thoroughly combine.
Let the salad sit at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours before serving. Stir occasionally so the juices and vinaigrette are evenly distributed. Just before serving, stir in the feta. This salad is best eaten the day it's made.