It’s like a bagel with the works, in salad-form

By Rebecca Firkser
July 30, 2018
Photo by Claudia Totir via Getty Images

Panzanella, aka salad with a base of bread and tomatoes, is one of those dishes I find at barbeques, but it’s rarely served at brreakfast or brunch. Fruit salad? Yes. Green salad? Probably. Bread? Sure. But no bread salad. Maybe I’m going to the wrong parties. I’ve decided to take it upon myself to rectify this problem. Seriously, what part of “bread salad” doesn’t sound like ideal brunch food?

Classic panzanella is made with ciabatta or a baguette, but to breakfast-ify the dish I opted for bagels. The best part of making this salad is the staler the bagels, the better the panzanella, and I always seem to have a few semi-stale bagels in my freezer. Since the bread spends time soaking in vinaigrette for a while, if it starts out very firm it’ll hold up better, creating tender and marinate-y—but not soggy—texture of a good panzanella.

While you can make bagel panzanella any time of year, it works especially well during late summer, when the produce (ahem, the tomatoes) are, for lack of a better word, perfect.

Slice a few bagels (figure ½-1 per person) into roughly 1-inch chunks. I like marbled rye bagels in this application, but everything and sesame also work very well.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until crispy and brown (10-15 minutes, less if your bagels are pretty stale to begin with), tossing to ensure all edges are even. You may need to add a bit more fat if the pan looks dry, so don’t be afraid to add another knob of butter of squirt of oil. When the bagels are cooked, take them off the heat to cool.

For the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, 2 large cloves of freshly grated garlic, and ¼ cup olive oil.

Add 1 thinly sliced small red onion, cut 1 English cucumber, 3 super-ripe tomatoes, and ½ cup feta into cubes into the bowl with vinaigrette. If you’re using more than 5 bagels, increase the amount of these ingredients proportionately. You’ll also probably want to double the vinaigrette.

Toss in the bagel chunks, 2 tablespoons capers, 3 tablespoons fresh dill, and plenty of kosher salt and black pepper. If you’d like, add a handful of basil or mint. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes to an hour to marinate and soften, tossing every 10 minutes or so, then serve with eggs and your preferred breakfast meat if you so choose.