With warm weather sneaking in little by little, my family and I have been spending more time outdoors. I can't help but notice how the bright, fresh colors of spring have emerged amidst the darkness of this long and difficult winter. That was the inspiration for this spring panzanella mason jar salad. Spring vegetables together with chunks of Tuscan bread soaked in a tangy homemade dressing creates an amazingly delicious salad that you can transport just about anywhere!
What is Panzanella Salad?
Other than being my favorite type of salad in the world, panzanella is a combination of day old Tuscan style bread soaked in vinegar and combined with fresh vegetables. One bite and you can almost imagine sitting in the hills with a glass of wine and never wanting to return to civilization. You can make panzanella with literally any combination of seasonal vegetables and fruit.
Spring Panzanella Ingredients
I couldn't resist using vegetables with bright pops of green, pink and orange. To make prep work a little easier, I used quartered canned artichokes, pre-shredded carrots and pre-washed lettuce, specifically baby arugula. It tends to be a tougher leaf, holds up better to the dressing and takes up less space in the jars. But, I don't want you to think arugula is the star of this show. It's the bread and other vegetables that make this salad hearty and delicious.
For this recipe I used ciabatta bread because of it's texture and flavor. It really absorbs the dressing well while still retaining it's meaty texture.
I like to make ribbons with the zucchini which adds a unique texture and visual appeal. To add some protein I threw in some cannellini beans, but chickpeas would also work nicely. If you have any leftover cooked asparagus lying around, that would also be a tasty springtime addition.
How to Layer Jars + Recipe Notes
The base of the jar will be your dressing. Depending on how "wet" you like your salad, you can adjust the amount of dressing according to your preference.
If you're going to be assembling the jars ahead of time for consumption later in the day, I would not recommend adding lettuce to the bottom of the jar first. Instead start with the bread, then add the other vegetables and end with lettuce. Traditionally, the bread in panzanella salad is soaked in vinegar and oil ahead of time, so it would make sense to stack the jars this way. For this reason you have to use bread that is at least a day old or more, otherwise it will be too mushy.
If you're going to shake and eat right away, it really doesn't matter how you assemble. I'd still recommend letting the dressing soak into the bread for at least 10 minutes prior to eating so it absorbs the flavors.
Once you've shaken up all the ingredients, you can eat from the jar or pour out onto a plate to enjoy!
These spring panzanella mason jar salads are perfect for picnics, to take to the beach this summer or to enjoy at work (where you'll probably be the envy of all your coworkers)!
Spring Panzanella Mason Jar Salad
- 1.5 cups ciabatta bread at least a day old and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 cup cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup artichokes recommend canned quartered artichokes
- 1 cup cucumbers chopped small
- ½ cup radishes sliced thin
- 1 cup zucchini sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or thinly chopped
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 2-3 cups arugula recommend baby arugula
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper freshly ground
- In a small bowl make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Using (2) quart-sized mason jars, add half the dressing to each jar.
- Layer by dividing the ingredients between the two jars, starting with the bread first then continuing on with beans, vegetables and ending with the lettuce.
- If not consuming right away, do not shake just simply refrigerate until ready to eat.
- Shake jar to incorporate the dressing into the salad and bread then let sit for about 5-10 min.
- Pour onto a plate or enjoy straight from the jar!
- For best consistency and flavor consume within 12-24 hours of assembly.