Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Basil Pesto Panzanella

Basil Pesto Panzanella - chock full of fresh veggies, grilled bread, Italian sausage, and Parmesan cheese, and dressed in a flavor-filled pesto vinaigrette - the perfect tribute to summer!

One of my absolute favorite parts of summer is planting a garden. We first planted one about 4 years ago, when we lived in our first home, in a tiny space on the edge of our tiny yard. And somehow, magically, it grew like crazy!! We had more tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, basil, and even lettuce than we knew what to do with....all without doing much of anything! Ever since that year, I am smitten with the idea of a garden and can't wait to watch it grow.

The only problem? Ever since that year, our garden has never been the same! Partly because we moved, so the space and the soil are different....and partly because our lives have become crazy! So for the past few years, we haven't gotten around to planting until Father's Day! Not ideal for growing a great vegetable garden. So while I wish I could say this Panzanella was straight from the garden, our garden isn't even a foot off the ground! We still won't have any vegetables for a while....if we have them at all (basil doesn't count)!

BUT. You better believe that if and when our garden takes off, this will be one of the first dishes I make. Because I'm a HUGE veggie lover, and this salad highlights all of them! Not to mention the crispy grilled bread, the delicious Italian sausage, the fresh-shaved Parmesan cheese, or the homemade pesto vinaigrette. The way the ingredients come together is amazing - it really is a complete meal, all on its own. Straight from the garden....or the grocery store....either way, it's delicious!

Basil Pesto Panzanella
6-8 c. crusty bread, cubed
3 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
12 oz. fully cooked Italian sausage links (I used Trader Joe's Italian Chicken Sausages), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 c. tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used different sizes of red and yellow tomatoes)
2 c. cucumbers, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used mini Persian cucumbers)
1 c. chopped bell peppers (I used a yellow & orange)
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 c. fresh shaved Parmesan cheese
Pesto Vinaigrette

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and salt; cook, stirring, until bread is nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
2.  In the same pan, brown Italian sausage pieces, stirring occasionally, 10 min. or to taste.
3. Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine. 
4. Add bread, sausage, Parmesan, and vinaigrette; toss to combine.

Pesto Vinaigrette 
3/4 c. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. golden balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
2 tsp. prepared pesto
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and shake well to mix.


 If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out a few of my other delicious summer salads!

Thanks for taking a peek inside my Lemon Tree Dwelling...
I hope you feel right at home!


  1. Yum! This looks really good. I'm a veggie lover too. I could live off of them. I can't wait to have my own place and have a garden.

  2. This looks absolutely delicious! I would love for you to link it up with me at: http://www.livingbettertogether.com/2013/07/tgif-link-party-no-3.html

    Have a great week!

  3. I've never had or made panzanella before, sounds delicious though. Thanks for sharing :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  4. This looks mighty tasty. We should have lots of tomatoes to share from our garden later on this summer. ☺

  5. It looks like there's also yellow and orange peppers too?

    1. Oops - yes! Forgot to add those to the recipe. Good catch! :)

  6. Looks so good - I love trader joes chicken sausages too! I must have this dressing to drink....or top my salads with ;) Great one Cathy!

  7. I LOVE Panzanella and yours looks super yummy and perfect for summer!

  8. This looks really good! I love trying new things & this looks like something I'd really like. And, I have to agree with Jillian, it's perfect for summer!!

  9. We eat panzanella a lot during the summer months in Italy. People use several days old bread, that would otherwise be tossed out.

  10. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I am making this Wednesday night which is the night just my husband and I have dinner together without my son and we get to eat all the things he won't (He's 14!). This is exactly the kind of meal we both love! Visiting from Marvelous Mondays and following you via Bloglovin'!

  11. You know... a panzanella salad is one salad I have not attempted yet, but I have been wanting to try it! This one looks amazing!

    Thank you so much for sharing at Marvelous Mondays this week!

  12. This looks delicious! I love panzanella. Found you over at In and Out of the Kitchen with Feeding Big.

  13. Cathy, my monstrous basil plant is begging to be harvested and this basil pesto panzanella is first on the list! Your summer salads look so refreshing and I can't wait to try some of them. PS: I found you on the Show & Share Wednesday linkup :)

  14. I replied earlier that I was going to make this Wednesday and I really did make this tonight. It was phenomenal! My son happened to be home for dinner and he ate more helpings than my husband and I did! Making it for a party I am going to next week too! My new favorite summer salad. Thank you!

  15. Now that is a delicious looking salad! I will definitely need to try this :)


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