Panzanella Cobb Salad: An Italian American Original

Casey Barber | Good. Food. Stories.

The Italian bread salad <i>panzanella</i> gets an all-American twist when mashed up with the classic Cobb salad. Simply perfect.

Panzanella Salad Photo
We Italians are a frugal bunch. Though we spend all the money we can spare on good wine, good cheese, and good bread, we make sure not a drop or crumb goes to waste. That's why one of our favorite salads is the panzanella —literally "bread salad," using loaves that are on their way to going stale. Instead of sending them to the compost bin or chicken coop, the slices of bread become easy croutons that sop up tangy dressing and complement fresh produce.
While traditional panzanella is most often found on Italian menus in the summer, when the juices from just-picked tomatoes soften the bread cubes, modern versions include a myriad of vegetables, leafy greens, and crunchy salad fixings. As long as you include cubes of crusty bread, your salad can keep the name panzanella.
This version was inspired by that country club hallmark, the Cobb salad. I've always loved the way the Cobb arrives in colorful bands of ingredients—the creamy green avocado playing against the brilliant yellow egg yolks, and crimson tomatoes with the neutral chicken to bring it all together. Here, I sub in an all-Italian lineup, tossing cubes of ciabatta with soft but sharply flavored Gorgonzola, buttery olives, and crispy prosciutto instead of bacon (so easy to make and such a decadent addition).
Panzanella Salad Picture
And in case you haven't noticed, the green, white, and red ingredients populating this main-dish panzanella salad just happen to match the colors of the Italian flag. Serve it lined up on a platter to get the full effect (or to fend off picky eaters who work around olives) or toss it together in a bowl if you're in a time crunch—trust me, it'll taste the same.
Looking for more great Italian salads from Casey? Try her Fava Bean Salad Recipe too!

  6 Servings

Ingredients

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salad:
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto, sliced
  • 1 bunch arugula, rinsed and dried well, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 head radicchio, rinsed and dried well, sliced or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 1/2 a pound)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved or quartered, depending on size
  • 1/4 pound gorgonzola dolce cheese, chunked into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 pound castelveltrano olives, cut into 1/4" slices

Directions

Make the vinaigrette:
  1. Whisk the vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to infuse the vinegar.
  2. Vigorously whisk the olive oil into the vinegar in a thin, steady stream until the dressing thickens. Set aside.
Make the crispy prosciutto:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Place the prosciutto slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the prosciutto is starting to brown and crisp around the edges like bacon.
  3. Slide the prosciutto, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  4. Break the cooled prosciutto into bite-size chunks with your hands. (While the prosciutto bakes and cools, slice and prep the rest of your salad ingredients.)
Assemble the salad:
  1. Toss the prosciutto, arugula, radicchio, ciabatta, tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and olives together in a large serving bowl. 
  2. Whisk the dressing briefly to recombine if separated, then toss a bit at a time with the salad, tasting and adjusting until it's dressed to your liking. 
  3. Serve immediately.

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Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (3 Votes)
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Casey Barber

About Casey

Casey loves the Mets, Pittsburgh, and all things food, which she writes about on Good. Food. Stories. She's sharing her heritage and authentic Italian recipes as our Italian Fanatic.

Around the Web

Kate donahue
FoodBabbles.com

Love this cobb spin on panzanella!! That looks so good. Gotta make this. Yum!

Amber
bluebonnetsandbrownies.com

I love that the ingredients made up the Italian flag, Casey. I think I'd like to just dip bread in that vinaigrette for days!