I have avoided panzanella salads like the plague for 99.9% of my life (crippling aversion to even the suggestion of soggy bread) until essentially this moment I made one myself and discovered that if the bread-to-greens ratio tips slightly in favor of greens, the dressing trends toward a thick sauce (the better to avoid sogginess), and the croutons are definitively toasted to burnished bronze then I’m good to go.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the sourdough into 1/2 inch squares (no need to remove the crusts) and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Toast in the oven, turning periodically for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and crunchy. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the garlic cloves and 2 cups of the basil leaves in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms. Scrape the pesto into a bowl or jar and mix with 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice to form a thick dressing. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
Wash the kale leaves, the working with 4-5 at a time, remove the center rib and stack the leaves. Roll lengthwise in a loose cigar shape and slice across the roll in 1/4-1/8” ribbons. Repeat until all the kale is shredded, then toss together with 2 tablespoons of the pesto dressing and the remaining 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves.
Prepare the remaining ingredients. Remove the pits and slice the nectarines in thick wedges, cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters and tear the mozzarella in rough pieces.
In a large, shallow bowl layer the dressed kale and basil leaves with the nectarines, tomatoes, bread cubes, and mozzarella. Dollop the remaining pesto dressing on top and serve!
Inspired by The First Mess’s Summer Panzanella with Peaches and Kale.