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Pickled red onions and creamy mozzarella update this classic salad
Milk Street Bowtie Panzanella with Herbs and Mozzarella

Panzanella with Herbs and Mozzarella

Appears in July-August 2020

40 minutes

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Panzanella with Herbs and Mozzarella

Free

This version of the classic Italian bread salad known as panzanella was inspired by a version from “Ruffage” author Abra Berens. We tear the bread into pieces to create more texture. We also quick-pickle red onion in sherry vinegar to add sharp bites of acidity. Finally, we soak pieces of fresh mozzarella in cream to add richness and mimic the butteriness of burrata cheese. Fresh basil and parsley, left as leaves rather than chopped, are tossed into the salad just before serving to add vibrant color and summery fragrance as well as fresh herbal flavor.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to salt the tomatoes as the first step. This ensures they are seasoned throughout, which is especially important if they aren’t at the peak of ripeness. It also softens their texture. Don’t use regular mozzarella cheese. It’s important to use fresh mozzarella, often sold packed in water.

40 minutes

1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
8 ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½ inch thick and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
Ingredients
  • pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ½

    small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 3

    tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • 8

    ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½ inch thick and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)

  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 8

    ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

  • 2

    tablespoons heavy cream

  • 2

    teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • 1

    cup lightly packed fresh basil

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

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Reviews
Scott M.
August 5, 2022
Yum!
Perfect simple and easy salad. I just used burrata to top and I loved the addition of lemon zest. I also had some leftover summer corn from a dinner the night before, and I trimmed it off the cob and threw it in at the end and it was delicious (although I realize not very traditional). This is a keeper and I imagine would be great for a dinner party or even a stand-alone meal.
Paula R.
August 4, 2022
question
I have access to real burrata. Should i use 8 ounces?
Kelly G.

This is absolutely delicious and has been a recurring dish in my kitchen this summer while the tomatoes and basil in my garden are doing well for a change. Very flavorful, with the lemon zest, onions w/vinegar, & fresh parsley and basil. The only adjustments I make are for dietary reasons (I cut back on the salt and oil as well as sub a lower fat version of heavy cream) and I don't think it suffers at all.

Janet B.

Absolutely delicious--perfect for a steamy summer night.


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Panzanella with Herbs and Mozzarella

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

40 minutes

Tip

Don’t forget to salt the tomatoes as the first step. This ensures they are seasoned throughout, which is especially important if they aren’t at the peak of ripeness. It also softens their texture. Don’t use regular mozzarella cheese. It’s important to use fresh mozzarella, often sold packed in water.

Ingredients
  • pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ½

    small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 3

    tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • 8

    ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½ inch thick and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)

  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 8

    ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

  • 2

    tablespoons heavy cream

  • 2

    teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • 1

    cup lightly packed fresh basil

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

Step 1 of 4

Season Vegetables

pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
small red onion, thinly sliced
3
tablespoons sherry vinegar

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with ½ teaspoon salt; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the red onion, vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt; set aside.

Step 2 of 4

Toast Bread

8
ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½ inch thick and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
3
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

In a 12-inch skillet over medium, toss the bread with the oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and light golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Immediately transfer to the bowl with the tomatoes and toss. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 3 of 4

Prepare Mozzarella

8
ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2
tablespoons heavy cream
2
teaspoons grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Meanwhile, using your hands, tear the mozzarella into bite-size chunks and add to a small bowl. Stir in the cream, lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Step 4 of 4

Finish and Serve

1
cup lightly packed fresh basil
½
cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil to serve

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the onion to the tomato-bread mixture, reserving the vinegar. Add the parsley and basil, then toss.


Taste and season with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar, if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, then top with the cheese and a generous drizzle of oil.

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Done!

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