Caesar Bread Salad or Panzanella Giulio

May 14, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Caesar Salad is a dish that brings back a lot of memories for me because it's one of my Mom's typical Spring dishes. She also makes her dressing in a very peculiar way. My goal for this recipe was to use hers as a base, but to throw in some twists to make it my own. Her recipe uses a coddled egg and olive oil to make a thin emulsion and grated parmesan as a thickener. I fiddled with amounts here and added some of my own elements to deepen the flavor, but the real innovation came when my partner mentioned that my experimental croutons, well, all croutons, were too hard to eat: "You can't stab them with your fork! It's frustrating." But I still wanted the bread in the salad to balance out the lettuce. And then it hit me. Why not make it a bread salad. And thus the idea was born. The asparagus, cucumber, and avocado are to celebrate the Spring and to take advantage of the green-ness of Caesar Salad by varying the shades. This is a great recipe for a light salad or as a main lunch course out in the backyard in the late Spring sun. Enjoy! - whatsjohneating —whatsjohneating

Test Kitchen Notes

This was a tasty rendition of a classic. The combination of veggies and bread made for a perfect light lunch. I like adding avocado to just about any salad, and here the creamy unctuousness was a fantastic counterpoint to the sharp strong dressing and crunchy crouton. I did toast my bread cubes in a 350 oven for 10 minutes (not enough to make them hard to eat with fork, per whatsjohneating's insturctions) to provide some crunch and stand up to the dressing. The dressing itself was slightly thinner than most Caesar dressing, and I did think the dressing needed a bit more citrus, so in future I might serve with some lemon wedges on the side. Would also be nice with some blackened/grilled shrimp or chicken for a slightly more robust meal. - MGrace
—The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Dressing
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • dash Tabasco sauce
  • 2 anchovy filets, minced (may be omitted)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pepper, salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated aged parmesan
  • Salad
  • 1 loaf (16. oz) day-old Italian bread, crust removed or intact
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, chopped into bite size pieces on the diagonal
  1. Fill medium sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Place egg in small heat resistant container and pour over boiling water. Let sit for 1 minute. Then, carefully remove egg from water and set aside. Reserve the rest of the water for later.
  2. Whisk together lemon juice, champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and minced anchovy filets in large glass bowl. Then lightly whisk in egg. The white will be runny and the yolk slightly thicker than normal.
  3. Begin adding oil drop by drop and whisking at the same time. As emulsion begins to take continue whisking and increase rate of oil to thin stream. When you have added all of the oil the dressing will be thin and slightly yellow.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste and add grated parmesan. Set dressing aside.
  5. Cut bread into one-inch cubes. Day-old bread will soak up the dressing better, but fresh bread will work also. I prefer to leave the crust because it adds a nice chewy texture to the salad. Remove, wash, and chop Romaine into bite-size pieces. Combine dressing, bread, and lettuce in large bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the dressing to soak in.
  6. At this point, bring water back to boil and parboil asparagus for two minutes, until it is cooked, but still crunchy. Then, plunge asparagus into ice bath to cool down. Cut avocado and cucumber into 1/2 inch cubes. When bread, lettuce and dressing have taken their half hour time-out in the fridge, combine with the rest of your ingredients and serve immediately with more sliced parmesan on top if you desire. Pairs well with fruity white wines!
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