This recipe is not your classic, traditional Italian or Greek panzanella salad, because with sliced sweet peaches, savory bacon, and gooey burrata crunched with sourdough bread chunks and dressed in an easy to make golden balsamic vinegar dressing, this healthy-ish salad goes well beyond the regular old panzanella each and every meal of the day.
Here we are, just three days into spring, and I’m already counting down the days to summer. That would be 72 if you’re wondering.
It’s not the hazy, lazy summer days lounging at the pool I’m waiting for (although that IS always on my summer happiness list), it’s the food I’m craving now. After a winter of simmering soups and savory stews, this girl is ready for the fresh, bright colors of salads of every color. And if it said salad has even a hint of caprese salad fixings—which I classify as a salad that includes some sort of mozzarella dressed in olive oil and balsamic and topped with basil—I am so 100% all over it.
It’s just one reason why I stopped dead in my flipping-the-pages-tracks while perusing the new cookbook of one of my favorite friends, then swiftly scoped my pantry stock for golden balsamic vinegar, checked on my countertop basil plant to be sure it hadn’t expired due to dehydration (those babies dry out fast!), and then headed straight to the grocery store for three loves of my foodie loving life: peaches, burrata, and bacon. Okay, make that four loves, with sourdough bread too.
The Pretty Dish: More Than 150 Everyday Recipes & 50 Beauty DIYs to Nourish Your Body Inside and Out is the newest cookbook from Jessica Merchant, the food blogger/exclamation point lover/prolific writer and recipe creator at the blog How Sweet Eats. I feature Jessica’s recipes all the time here on the blog in recipe round-ups and on my Friday Faves including this totally cheesy bacon mac and cheese recipe from her first cookbook Seriously Delish.
True to Jessica’s style, The Pretty Dish is overflowing with 150 easy-to-cook but totally creative recipes ranging from breakfast (Zucchini Bread Pancakes), to main meals split into the first half of the week when we’re feeling virtuously healthy, and then our favorite part of the week(end) when we let loose and cave to our comfort food cravings (Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Flatbread and Short Rib Chili) plus cocktails and dessert that can all be made in 60 minutes or less.
But true to all that Jessica does, and does so well, she’s packed this already full book with even more than expected for those other cookbooks, including the ultimate excuses to get your party on with party playlists, party menus including “bar”-style hosting recipe ideas (how about an affrogato bar!) and loads of 50 beauty DIYs for your hair, lips and skin (coconana facemask! hot avocado oil hair mask! birthday cake sugar scrubs! vanilla rose bath melts!—this is one I’ll DEFINITELY be making for my nightly tubs.
And the cookbook isn’t just a food lovers recipe epicenter, it showcases Jessica’s vibrant personality, entertaining us with every word in her typical easy, breezy, real-life writing style that’s totally Jess.
How to Make This Peachy Keen Panzanella Bread Salad
One of the beauties of this panzanella ala caprese salad, and just one of its merits that I 100% agree with Jessica on, is the deliciousness of its play on sweet, savory and salty flavors. And while farm fresh peaches aren’t in season yet, I did find some perfectly acceptable store-bought peaches that I ripened just a bit more overnight in a bag on the countertop with a few bananas. Why bananas? They exude ethylene gas that promotes the ripening of many fruits. You could also use nectarines or even plums instead of peaches, or a combination of all three.
I cooked up a batch of thick cut, smokey bacon and crumbled it on afterward. But don’t let go of that grease! One addition I made to this recipe from Jess’s original is toasting the sourdough in a spattering of drippings in the same cast-iron skillet I fried the bacon in then sprinkled it all with big flakes of sea salt. A sprinkling of herbs would be amazing on top too.
Burrata is the glue that brings it all together in this salad. Burrata is a fresh buffalo milk cheese that’s molded on the outside with mozzarella with the inside filled with cheese cream for the ultimate creamy cheese texture. You could also substitute regular fresh mozzarella instead.
The whole shebang is dressed with a classic balsamic vinaigrette that features golden balsamic vinegar, a bit subtler and smoother in its vinegar-y-ness and doesn’t purple-ize the whole salad. You can use Dijon mustard as Jess did, or a ground seeded mustard as I did.
The only thing I’d say to not leave out is the garlic. It adds an incredibly flavor burst with the already salty and sweet.
The last adaptation I made to the recipe, besides swapping the order of burrata and bacon in the recipe title, is using red leaf lettuce instead of butter lettuce as Jess did in her original. This is where you could totally go all willllldd and choose a different lettuce, or none at all.
A few leafs that would work well here are:
- Butter lettuce
- Spring mix
- 50/50 blend
And don’t forget the basil. It’s the topping on this panzanella/caprese-ish cake.
More Caprese-zanella Recipes to Cure Your Summer Cravings
- Roasted Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad
- 30-Minute Caprese Chicken Recipe
- Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
- Greek-Style Panzanella Bread Salad Recipe
- Chicken Caprese Sandwich
- Lamb Za’atar Panzanella Salad
- Caprese Avocado Toast
- Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Caprese Salad
- Brussels Sprouts Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Bacon
- Melted Mozzarella Caprese Crostini Toasts
- Microwave Egg Caprese Breakfast Cups
- Avocado Caprese Salad
- Grilled Caprese Skewers
- 3-4 slices bacon
- 3 cups sourdough bread cubes
- 2 peaches, thinly sliced
- Fresh lettuce leaves such as red leaf, butter lettuce or arugula
- 8 ounces fresh burrata cheese
- Basil leaves for garnish
- For the Vinaigrette
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup golden balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or seeded mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool, then crumble into pieces. Add the sourdough cubes to the same pan used to cook the bacon and toast the cubes on all sides until golden. Transfer to a plate or bowl to cool and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- To assemble the salad, place the torn lettuce, bread, peach slices and burrata on a serving plate or bowl. Sprinkle with the bacon pieces and basil leaves and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Season with more kosher salt and pepper if you'd like.
- To Make the Vinaigrette
- Add all of the ingredients to a jar fitted with a lid and shake well until emulsified. There will be extra dressing that can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
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