Parmesan Garlic Croutons are the crunchy parts in this easy Panzanella with Cucumber and Feta. A quick recipe for a weekday healthy dinner.
It’s already mid-September and I still post a summer salad. May be because it is still around 95 degrees here in GA. Now I am not complaining, I like the heat, but eventually we’ll need to move on and allow fall to take over. Having that said, this salad is one you can most likely make all-year round.
It takes just 5 ingredients plus a dressing to make this Panzanella with Cucumber and Feta. Let’s start with the croutons; Parmesan and garlic croutons to be precise.
What do you need for the cheesy croutons?
You will need day-old bread, oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder and cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Here is how you make the croutons
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- You will need day old bread. Freshly baked bread does not bake as easily. My preference is sourdough bread, rustic bread or a French baguette. I also prefer to keep the crust on the bread. Cut bread in cubes of max. 1-inch or larger. Remember that the cubes will become very crunchy, so don’t make it too big as that may be harder to eat. You can also tear the bread in bite-size pieces.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Mix olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl. Use this to coat the pieces of bread. If you like to add more flavor, add spices or herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, or red pepper flakes for heat. I am sure there are many more options to try.
- Spread the bread cubes out on the baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with about half of the Parmesan cheese. Bake for approx. 8 minutes. Stir and/or flip the croutons and sprinkle with a little bit more of the cheese. Bake another 5 minutes or until they reach your desired crispiness. Cool down.
Make the rest of the Panzanella
Now it is time to make the other parts of the salad and the dressing. For the salad you only need to cut tomatoes, cucumber and Feta cheese. I cut all in roughly similar size pieces. Why? I think it looks nice and it eats nice as well. What I mean is that when you use your fork to eat, you will have all ingredients on that fork and will enjoy the Panzanella with Cucumber and Feta and tomatoes. Chop the basil leaves and mix most of it with the cucumber and tomatoes.
The dressing for this Panzanella is made from olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic power and salt and pepper.
Last but not least, Mix everything together. Add the croutons last, just before you want to serve it. This way they remain crunchy and won’t soak of the liquids of the vegetables or dressing. I also always keep some Feta aside for the last moment. The feta may be colored by the dressing and pure white dice of Feta make the salad pop. Sprinkle basil on top.
Panzanella with Cucumber and Feta
- 2 1/2 cups bread see notes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- 1/2 cucumber
- 4 tomatoes vine ripened
- 4 ounces Feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons basil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- Make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut bread, crust included in cubes of max. 1-inch or tear the bread in bite-size pieces.
- In a small bowl, mix olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add bread pieces to bowl and mix until the bread is evenly coated with the oil mixture.
- Spread the bread out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese evenly over the bread and transfer baking sheet in the oven. Bake for approx. 5 minutes. Stir them and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until they reach your desired crispiness. Allow to cool.
- Make the dressing: Mix the ingredients: sherry vinegar, olive, oil, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
- Make the salad: Cut the cucumber, tomato, and feta in roughly equally sized pieces, about the same size as the croutons. Chop the basil leaves. Leave some feta and basil for the very last moment. Add the dressing and mix again to coat vegetables and cheese.
- When you are ready to serve. Mix most of the croutons with the salad.
- Divide over 2 plates. Toss feta and croutons you kept aside and sprinkle with basil.
- Type of bread: rustic or baguette or sourdough
- You can add your favorite herbs and/or seasoning to the mix to add more flavor to the croutons.