Ahhh, panzanella salad. It’s so good with all of its vinaigrette soaked chunks of bread, olives and cheese. But we all know that good olives and cheese are not cheap. So, I switched a few things up for this recipe to make it a little more budget friendly.
First, I used half a loaf of homemade focaccia instead of a store bought crusty atisan loaf. If you haven’t already tried this super easy and delicious focaccia, you MUST. Second, I went light on the expensive ingredients, like olives and cheese. Sometimes just a little is enough to give the flavor that you need. Third, I substituted half of the olive oil in the vinaigrette for vegetable oil and lastly, I bulked up the salad with a bunch of shredded romaine lettuce.
Unfortunately, I did not capture just how “saucy” the salad is in the photos. As you eat and stir all of the juices begin to culminate on the bottom of the bowl where the crusty bread soaks up all of that glorious flavor… it’s just fantastic.
You can keep this salad fresh and delicious all week by keeping the ingredients separate and combining them just before eating. More details below.
Budget Panzanella Salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce $1.69
- ½ loaf focaccia $0.54
- 4 medium roma tomatoes $1.47
- 1 medium cucumber $0.50
- ½ medium red onion $0.35
- ½ cup pitted greek olives $2.22
- 2 oz. crumbled feta $0.87
- ¼ cup vegetable oil $0.16
- ¼ cup olive oil $0.44
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar $0.16
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard $0.06
- 1 tsp dried oregano $0.05
- 1 tsp minced garlic $0.12
- ¾ tsp salt $0.05
- to taste freshly ground black pepper $0.05
- Shred and wash the romaine lettuce. Shred by cutting the head into 2-3 strips lengthwise and then cut across into thin strips. Place the shredded lettuce into a colander and rinse well under cool water. Let drain as you prepare the rest of the salad. Give it a shake every now and then to help the water find its way out the bottom of the colander.
- Wash the tomatoes and cucumber then cut each into quarter rounds. Thinly slice the red onion, roughly chop the olives and crumble the feta. Place all of these items (tomato, cucumber, onion, olive and feta) into a bowl and stir to combine.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together all of the ingredients (oils, vinegar, mustard, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper). Set aside until ready to use. Tear or cut the focaccia into one inch chunks.
- You now have the four elements needed for the salad (lettuce, vinaigrette, bread, and vegetable mix). You can either keep these four items in your refrigerator separately and then assemble just prior to eating or combine all four bowls into one big salad and consume immediately. Premixed salads will get soggy if kept in the refrigerator.
- To assemble the salad, lay down a handful of lettuce, a handful of bread chunks, and then some of the vegetable mix. Whisk the vinaigrette briefly and then drizzle a little over top. Stir the entire salad to distribute the dressing and enjoy!
Step By Step Photos
Start by cutting up your lettuce so that you can wash it and let it drain while you prepare the rest. First cut it lengthwise into 2-3 sections and then cut across into thin strips.
Place the cut lettuce into a colander and rinse well under cool water. Let it drain as you prepare the rest of the salad.
Wash and cut the tomatoes and cucumber into quarter rounds. Thinly slice the red onion. Roughly chop the olives and crumble the feta. Combine all of these into a bowl.
Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the oils, vinegar, mustard, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. This happens to be the best vinaigrette I’ve ever had and I’m sure I’ll be making it constantly for salads.
I made a loaf of no-knead focaccia and used half for the salad. Tear or cut the focaccia into one inch chunks (this is easiest after it has completely cooled).
Now you have all four components of the salad: lettuce, vegetable mix, bread, and vinaigrette. I kept these four bowls of ingredients separate in my refrigerator and have been gobbling up the salad all week. The ingredients will stay fresh and crisp as long as you don’t mix them together ahead of time. I DID stir the vegetable mix but kept it in its own bowl.
When you’re ready for a salad, lay down a handful of lettuce followed by a handful of bread cubes then place some of the vegetable mix on top and give everything a drizzle of vinaigrette. Stir everything really well to distribute the dressing and allow the bread to soak up all of those wonderful juices!