Watermelon Panzanella Salad

Watermelon panzanella salad in a square bowl with a fork
Photo: Brynn McDowell, RD

As the weather gets warmer, the last thing I want to do when making dinner is turn on the oven. You feel me? Instead, I find myself gravitating toward grilling outside or making refreshing salads in the dog days of summer.

This Watermelon Panzanella Salad recipe is one of my favorite to make because:

  • It’s so easy, ready in less than 10 minutes.
  • The flavors are so fresh and light that it’s perfect in the summer.
  • My kids love it.
  • It utilizes stale bread you have lying around.

I also love that making this salad a little in advance only improves the flavor! Lightly toasting the bread, instead of creating a crunchy crouton, allows the juices from the watermelon and olive oil to absorb into the bread and creates such a great flavor. I also love topping it with fresh mint or basil. So much summer goodness in one bowl!

Nutritional Benefit

Adding fruit to your recipes is also a great way to create a lot of flavor without adding heavy ingredients. Fresh fruit adds such a great dimension to many dishes and great nutritional benefits to your meals.  Many fruits are high in antioxidants and can help prevent cancer and heart disease.

The panzanella salad recipe is easily customizable, too, which is something I look for in a recipe that I find myself making more than once. Last summer, I made a Cantaloupe Panzanella Salad that uses the same general technique. You could also skip the fruit altogether and replace with vine-ripened tomatoes. So many options to make it your own.


Watermelon Panzanella Salad

Serves 4

This is the perfect refreshing summer recipe. Crisp arugula combined with juicy watermelon and toasted bread for the ultimate salad.

Ingredients

For the toasted bread

  • 4 slices crusty italian bread, cut into cubes or torn into small pieces
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper

For the salad

  • 4 cups arugula
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Optional – fresh mint or basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Lay the cubed bread on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes, until bread is golden brown and just lightly toasted.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Assemble the salad by topping arugula with sliced onion, watermelon, feta cheese and toasted bread. Top with dressing ingredients and lightly toss together salad. Top with fresh herbs if desired.
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Brynn McDowell
Brynn McDowell, RD, is a dietitian based in Livermore, CA, and owner of The Domestic Dietitian. She blogs at www.thedomesticdietitian.com where she focuses on helping people create a healthy lifestyle in their homes. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.