November 29, 2022

Canadiannpizza

Cooking Is My World

Pickle Panzanella Salad | The First Mess

This pickle panzanella is a fun, refreshing, and delicious twist on the classic Italian bread salad. Ready in under 30 minutes and loaded with fresh vegetables like cucumber, red onion, and thinly shaved fennel. This is an amazing BBQ side salad for all the pickle enthusiasts in your life!

An overhead shot of a pickle panzanella salad with crispy bits of bread, chopped cucumbers, pickles and red onion, plus shaved fennel and fresh dill. Photographed in a wide, white bowl with wood serving tongs. All set on a worn wood background.
A 3/4 angle shot of a pickle panzanella salad with crispy bits of bread, chopped cucumbers, pickles and red onion, plus shaved fennel and fresh dill. Photographed in a wide, white bowl with wood serving tongs.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a pickle panzanella salad on top of a worn wooden board.
A 3/4 angle image shows a homemade vinaigrette being poured over chopped cucumbers, red onion, fennel, dill, and chopped pickles.

If it’s dill pickle-flavoured and consists of 50% bread, I am in! This pickle panzanella is so fun to make. It’s also perfect for backyard BBQ parties or other warm weather get-togethers. I love an alternative, seasonally-appropriate panzanella, and it’s been awhile since I shared one. Let’s get to it!

The crispy bits of bread get loaded up with dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder, a splash of white wine vinegar (yes, vinegar in the croutons!), salt pepper, and nutritional yeast. The idea here is to apply the pickle-y essence to the crunchy bread. Using tangy sourdough is a pro move for this pickle panzanella salad because it really enhances the overall pickle vibe.

From here, I filled the recipe out with as much fresh veg as I could. Everyone knows that the best salads are mostly bread (hehe). But I also like to get some vitamins and hydration going in the mix. Shaved fennel is mellow and refreshing, red onion is sharp and contrasting, and the fresh cucumber is cool and mellow. 

I like using the smashed cucumber cutting/prep technique here. The jagged edges really help it to pick up more flavour from the dressing. It’s not 100% necessary though. It is cool to see the similarity between the jagged cucumber edges and the torn bread bits as you toss everything together.

I would serve this up with any vegan grilled main (marinated tofu or tempeh, vegan sausages etc) for a simple and satisfying meal. Sometimes in the warmer months, I enjoy serving a few little salads and sides for dinner. This recipe would fit in really well with that configuration. If you’re into this salad, I’m confident that you’ll also enjoy my Chopped Creamy Dill Pickle Salad and my Vegan Potato Salad with Dill Pickle Dressing.

An up close, overhead shot of crispy, toasted ripped pieces of bread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Overhead image shows lightly dressed cucumber, fennel, red onion, pickles, and fresh dill in an off-white bowl with wooden serving tongs.
A salad with cucumbers, pickles, fennel, and crispy bits of bread is tossed together in an off-white bowl on a worn wood background.
An up close, overhead shot of a pickle panzanella salad with crispy bits of bread, chopped cucumbers, pickles and red onion, plus shaved fennel and fresh dill. Photographed in a wide, white bowl with wood serving tongs.

Pickle Panzanella Salad

This pickle panzanella is a fun, refreshing, and delicious twist on the classic Italian bread salad. Ready in under 30 minutes and loaded with fresh vegetables like cucumber, red onion, and thinly shaved fennel.

An up close, overhead shot of a pickle panzanella salad with crispy bits of bread, chopped cucumbers, pickles and red onion, plus shaved fennel and fresh dill. Photographed in a wide, white bowl with wood serving tongs.

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 12 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons pickle brine
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated/minced
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
  • ½ teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil

Pickle Panzanella Salad

  • 4-5 cups torn bread pieces, about 2-inches per piece
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and shaved thin
  • ½ small red onion, shaved thin
  • 2 mini cucumbers, chopped
  • 3 large dill pickles, chopped
  • cup chopped fresh dill

Notes

  • I like using sourdough that’s a few days old for panzanella. In the photos here, I’m using a multi-seed sourdough and it really added to the textural aspect of the salad.
  • Honestly, I think the fresher style pickles that you find in the refrigerated section of some grocery stores are better for this, but I only had the yellow brine-style dill pickles on hand. It was still pretty great!
  • If you’re hesitant to try fennel, shaving it thin for a salad like this really does make a difference! The flavour is so mellow and fresh. But if you absolutely detest it, just add an extra mini cucumber to the mix.
  • If there’s a vegan feta brand that you like and have on hand, a little sprinkle on top of the salad at the end is so delicious!
  • Lord Sandy’s brand and Annie’s both make vegan Worcestershire sauce options.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set out a large baking sheet and line it with parchment paper or a Silpat if you like.

  • Make the dressing. In a sealable jar, combine the pickle brine, white wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Tightly close the lid on top and give it a good shake. Set aside.

  • Place the torn pieces of bread on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, dried dill weed, and some salt and pepper. This mixture will be like a paste. Spoon it over the bread pieces and toss until bread is evenly coated. Really get in there with your hands to make sure every piece is coated. Spread the pieces out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Pop it into the oven and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

  • In a large serving bowl, combine the shaved fennel, red onion, chopped cucumber, dill pickles, and fresh dill. Pour the dressing over top and season with salt and pepper. Give everything a toss. Then, add the crispy seasoned bread pieces to the bowl and toss again. Garnish the salad with more fresh dill and serve immediately.

A 3/4 angle shot of a pickle panzanella salad with crispy bits of bread, chopped cucumbers, pickles and red onion, plus shaved fennel and fresh dill. Photographed in a wide, white bowl with wood serving tongs.