Watermelon Peach Panzanella Salad is a simple summer salad made with watermelon, sweet juicy peaches, crunchy cucumbers, basil, crusty toasted bread, and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s perfect for a light dinner, lunch or side dish at your next barbecue!
How do you feel about bread being added to a salad? I don’t mean a slice of sandwich bread, that doesn’t sound good at all. I’m talking about chunks of crusty artisan bread that have been toasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper until they’re crisp and crunchy.
Yes, essentially this is like adding croutons to a salad. However, the difference is, we’re going to let the vinaigrette soak into the crunchy bread. It won’t be soggy, unless you let it sit for hours. It will have some soft areas that are saturated with the vinaigrette and other parts that are still crisp. It’s absolutely delicious!
What I’ve just described above is a key part of a panzanella salad. Today I’m sharing the recipe for Watermelon Peach Panzanella Salad. It’s truly a summer treat! It goes great served alongside whatever protein you’re grilling for dinner that night, and would also be great as a vegetarian main dish.
Ingredients For Watermelon Peach Panzanella Salad
- Persian cucumbers
- crusty artisan bread
- white balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
What is Panzanella?
Panzanella is a chopped summer salad that originated in Tuscany. Traditionally it consists of stale bread, tomatoes and onions. The bread soaks up the juices from the tomatoes as well as the dressing which is typically olive oil and some type of vinegar.
Other ingredients that are commonly included in a panzanella are cucumbers, basil, greens, mozzarella, red onion, kalamata olives or capers. Of course you can make a panzanella as traditional or non-traditional as you like. The only ingredient I would consider crucial to a panzanella is the stale or toasted bread.
How To Make Watermelon Peach Panzanella Salad
Start by cutting your bread into cubes. It’s best to start with bread that is a few days old and starting to get stale. Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss them around and then toast them in the oven until the bread is crisp like a crouton.
While the bread is toasting, cube the watermelon, and slice the peaches, cucumbers and red onion. Add everything to a large bowl. Let the toasted bread cool for a few minutes before adding it to the bowl with the other ingredients.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the white balsamic vinegar, honey, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. I like to add it all to a jar with a lid so I can just shake to combine everything. However, a measuring cup and a whisk work just as well.
Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and gently stir everything together. Taste it for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. The vinaigrette should start to absorb into the toasted bread. You can serve the panzanella in the bowl you mixed it in or on a serving platter like I did in the photos. Garnish the salad with basil leaves before serving.
What To Serve With Panzanella
Panzanella goes great with grilled meats, roasted chicken, steak or fish. I like to serve this watermelon peach panzanella salad with caprese balsamic grilled chicken, grilled bruschetta chicken, or sheet pan pesto salmon and potatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have some very stale bread, think Thanksgiving stuffing, you don’t have to toast it in the oven. If you want the flavor of the olive oil, salt and pepper in the bread, then I wouldn’t skip this step.
Boxed croutons generally have a lot of added seasoning in them, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
You’ll want to use a rustic, artisan type bread. I used a crusty sourdough for this recipe, but you could also use ciabatta, baguette, or a boule.
Yes. It will change the color of the salad, but won’t really affect the flavor.
- 4 slices of stale artisan bread, cubed (about 4 cups)
- Olive oil, salt and pepper for drizzling on the bread cubes
- 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
- 2 peaches, sliced
- 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- Basil leaves for garnish
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Spread the bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and then bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool.
- Add the watermelon, peaches, cucumbers, red onion and toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.
- In a jar with a lid or measuring cup, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Shake or whisk until well combined and then pour over the salad ingredients.
- Gently stir everything together until it's all coated in the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve the panzanella in the same bowl or pour it out onto a serving platter. Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.
Panzanella is best when made and served on the same day.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 225mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 3gSugar: 24gProtein: 5g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.