Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

  Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette | Image: Laura Messersmith

This recipe will seem out of place once I tell you that wet bread makes me cringe. An under-cooked piece of French toast, still sodden with eggy custard sends a cold chill up my spine. A cellophane-wrapped sandwich where the tomatoes have seeped into the previously delicious roll? Eww.

  Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette | Image: Laura Messersmith

So, as you might guess, I have avoided panzanella salads like the plague for 99.9% of my life until essentially this moment when I made one myself and discovered that if the bread-to-greens ratio tips slightly in favor of greens, the dressing trends toward a thick sauce, and the croutons are definitively toasted to burnished bronze then I’m good to go.

Only a few terribly specific requirements, oh and if there could be stone fruit involved too? There is? Awesome. This, my friends, is that recipe. An excellent dish for dinner with friends – fresh, light, filling, and gorgeous.

  Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette | Image: Laura Messersmith

Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette (serves 4)

Ingredients:
4 cups sourdough bread cubes
4 teaspoons (3 cloves) minced garlic
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
2 lemons
4 cups (1 large bunch) lacinato kale leaves
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 ripe nectarines
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
olive oil
kosher salt
ground black pepper

Instructions:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the sourdough into 1/2 inch squares (no need to remove the crusts) and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Toast in the oven, turning periodically for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and crunchy. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, place the garlic cloves and 2 cups of the basil leaves in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms. Scrape the pesto into a bowl or jar and mix with 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice to form a thick dressing. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.

Wash the kale leaves, the working with 4-5 at a time, remove the center rib and stack the leaves. Roll lengthwise in a loose cigar shape and slice across the roll in 1/4-1/8” ribbons. Repeat until all the kale is shredded, then toss together with 2 tablespoons of the pesto dressing and the remaining 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves.

Prepare the remaining ingredients. Remove the pits and slice the nectarines in thick wedges, cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters and tear the mozzarella in rough pieces.

In a large, shallow bowl layer the dressed kale and basil leaves with the nectarines, tomatoes, bread cubes, and mozzarella. Dollop the remaining pesto dressing on top and serve!

Inspired by The First Mess’s Summer Panzanella with Peaches and Kale.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
I used a rimmed baking sheet, medium cutting board, bread knife. Small food processor, medium mixing bowl, chef’s knife and tongs.

  Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Summer Panzanella Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette | Image: Laura Messersmith