Put A Greek Twist On Panzanella Salad With Kalamata Olives And Feta

A traditional panzanella salad made with crusty bread and tomatoes is attributed to Italian cuisine because it originated there in the countryside and is served in areas like Tuscany today. In nearby Greece, there's the horiatiki salad also made with fresh tomatoes plus Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and other ingredients. Both salads are enjoyed around the world so we think it's a delicious idea to combine the two recipes for a Mediterranean fusion of flavors.

To make a Greek-inspired panzanella salad, any of the ingredients found in a traditional horiatiki salad will be delicious, but the Kalamata olives and feta cheese must make it to your mixing bowl. The salty olives will complement the acidity from the tomatoes while the creaminess of feta will contrast with the crunchy bread.

If you've never made a Greek salad, check out our Greek-style seven-layer salad recipe that includes olives and feta plus chickpeas and red onions, two other ingredients that will add more flavor and texture to a panzanella sella. We'd recommend skipping the lettuce in the panzanella because it's not traditional, but go for it if you can't fathom a salad without greens. After all, we're already putting a twist on the recipe.

Lean into the Greek inspiration with pita bread in a panzanella salad

The bread is arguably the most important of a panzanella salad, and it's crucial to use stale or toasted crusty bread that can soak up the dressing without getting soggy. Ciabatta and sourdough breads are commonly used in some recipes, but you can lean into the Greek inspiration more and use pita bread instead. Pita bread isn't as thick as crusty bread, so don't skimp on how much you add to the bowl. And because it's thinner, it's more essential to leave the pinta on the counter for a day or two to get stale — or to toast in the oven so it withstands the juices from the vegetables and the dressing.

Since we mentioned the dressing, this element can be elevated with a Greek twist, like making a vinaigrette with Greek olive oil instead of Italian, because the former has stronger herbiness. Combine the oil with red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and dried herbs like oregano to complete the vinaigrette. Or, to make it easier, buy a bottle of Greek salad dressing, pre-made hummus, or tzatziki sauce at the grocery store.

The other ingredients for your Greek-style panzanella are up to you, like adding bell peppers for crunch or pepperoncini peppers for heat. Just don't forget those pitted Kalamata olives and lots of crumbled feta cheese.