Bread in Salads
Bread in salads. It's an idea that can take some time to embrace. I mean, there are croutons, sure. But croutons are hard and crunchy—soggy doesn't happen with croutons. "Soggy," however, might be one of the first words that that comes to mind when hearing the phrase "bread salad."
For me, once I discovered panzanella, an Italian bread salad, there was no going back. Toasted cubes of bread tossed with veggies and a vinaigrette—with just enough crunch to satisfy and just enough give to soak up some delicious dressing? Not to be all melodramatic, but the first bite is a bit of a transcendent experience.
It wasn't long after panzanella and I became BFFs that a Lebanese friend introduced me to fattoush. Instead of rustic cubes of bread and fresh strips of basil, with fattoush you've got toasted pitas and sumac. Both bread salads are usually also comprised of greens and lots of other veggies (cucumber and tomatoes are biggies), and then it's all tossed with a vinaigrette-style dressing.
Making the Salad
Bread salads are an excellent way to use up, say, those two remaining lone pitas going stale at the bottom of the bag, or those last few slices of day-old bread. No slice left behind!
I took some liberties when creating this salad—authentic fattoush this is not! This is a mash-up of your typical Horiatiki-style Greek salad and traditional fattoush. From the Greek salad side, we've got thinly sliced red onions; bite-sized chunks of cucumber, bell pepper, and tomatoes; and a generous dose of kalamata olives and feta—plus, a garlicky oregano-laced vinaigrette. Toasted pitas—tossed in olive oil to help them retain some crunchiness once the dressing hits them—and crunchy romaine lettuce are a nod to the fattoush side of the equation.
Together as one, they make up a colorful, refreshing summer salad that delivers a mega dose of Mediterranean deliciousness. Sog, schmog: just bring on the bread salad!
Photos by Lindsey Johnson
For the salad:
- 2 whole wheat pitas or flatbread rounds white works fine, too
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 4 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, quartered, and sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper cut into ¾-inch chunks
- ½ pint 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ small red onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup flat Italian parsley leaves
- ½ cup Kalamata olives halved
- ¾ cup feta cheese crumbled
For the dressing:
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut the pitas in half and place them on a baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until golden brown and toasted, 10–15 minutes. Let cool.
- Break or cut the toasted pitas into bite-size (1-inch) pieces. Add them to a medium bowl and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the bread. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt and toss again to distribute. Set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and olives. Toss.
- Make the vinaigrette. To a small bowl, add the ⅓ cup olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk until blended.
- Add the pita bread pieces and the feta to the salad. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top. Toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.
This recipe was originally published on 30 June 2014.