This rustic bread salad is one of our favorite things to make when warm summer days ease into cool fall nights. The hearty bitter greens and salty prosciutto contrast perfectly with the sweetness of the tender medjools, making this panzanella satisfying enough for a light lunch, but sturdy enough to stand up to a grilled rib eye. We especially love to serve this salad under a roast chicken Zuni Café-style. The croutons absorb the chicken drippings while the residual heat ever-so-slightly wilts the greens. Pair with a bottle of juicy red or a buttery white for a really dreamy fall dinner.
- 6 ounces country-style bread, torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)
- ½ cup mild olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto (about 7 slices)
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 2 celery stalks, very thinly sliced on the bias, plus ½ cup bright green celery leaves
- 5 Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates, pitted and sliced crosswise into coins (see Note)
- ¼ cup shaved pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread pieces with ¼ cup of the olive oil. Season with salt. Line a separate rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer. Bake the croutons until they’re beginning to brown and the prosciutto is crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper. While whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining ¼ cup of the olive oil until the vinaigrette is thick and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the croutons, radicchio, arugula, celery, celery leaves and dates. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and gently toss. Break the crispy prosciutto into large pieces and add to the salad along with the pecorino and pine nuts. Gently toss.
Transfer the panzanella to a serving bowl and serve right away.
NOTE To cut your dates into coins, remove the pit from the top of the date with pliers or strong tweezers. Check out the Rancho Meladuco Instagram page for a quick video tutorial on how to do this.
Recipe & Photo credit: Julia Heffelfinger