Plum & Radicchio Panzanella with Honey Mustard Dressing


There is always a good way to use up leftover bread in Tuscany and that, of course, I applaud. Or should I say aspire to. I toast to that good food conscience. Whatever. The point is: panzanella. It sounds like the sweet baby girl name that you would never choose for fear she would take it as permission to wear skin-tight tube skirts and ride on the backs of motorcycles with guys named Marco whenever she’d tell you she was going to the market and only call you by your first name. And you’d be like, great… eh, but what can you do? Panzanella can only be Panzanella.

Thankfully, in most cases panzanella is a dish, a bread salad dish. With leftover ingredients like broken bread pieces and chunky chopped vegetables smothered in olive oil, garlic, basil and perhaps anchovies.

Because of the implied earthiness of the (often stale) bread in the salad, I took the liberty of furthering that by grilling and then cooling the bread and many of the vegetables I used in this one — radicchio (I’m not even going to get into what kind of guy that name would be), zucchini and yellow summer squash. Then, because they’re so pretty and fresh and in season, I quartered some juicy red plums and tossed those along with my juicy red plum tomatoes. And that’s pretty much it. A lovely mess of red on one’s plate never did anyone any harm.

Plum & Radicchio Panzanella with Honey Mustard Dressing
(makes 6-8 servings)

1 small head of radicchio
5 plum tomatoes
4 red or black plums
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
About half a baguette (can be leftover and stale)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 Tb red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper

Use a grill, if possible: Slice radicchio head in half and slick with olive oil, salt and pepper. Slice zucchini, yellow squash, and baguette into 1/2″ thick rounds and lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill everything until slightly charred and the bread is toasted, the vegetables still crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Let cool.

Coarsley shred radicchio. Core tomatoes and chop into quarters. Chop plums into quarters, removing pits. Tear basil leaves into coarse pieces. Tear bread into halves or rough pieces. To make the dressing, combine mustard, honey, vinegar and garlic with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir rapidly while drizzling in the olive oil to emulsify. Taste and adjust as desired. In a large bowl, toss everything together with the dressing and serve immediately, or let chill up to 4 hours before serving.

Cost Calculator
(for 6-8 servings)

1 head radicchio (at $3.99/lb): $2.00
5 plum tomatoes (at $1.99/lb): $2.50
4 red plums (at $1.99/lb): $1.75
1 cup basil leaves (from plant): $1.00
1 zucchini (at $1.79/lb): $0.50
1 yellow squash (at $1.89/lb): $0.70
1/4 cup chopped red onion (at $1.00/lb): $0.25
1/2 baguette: $1.00
1 clove garlic: $0.03
honey, mustard, vinegar: $0.25
1/4 cup olive oil: $0.35
salt, pepper: $0.03

Total: $10.36

Health Factor

Three brownie points: Not quite a fruit salad, not even close to a traditional green salad, this panzanella is an atypical salad that has some of the best of both worlds. Bitter, crunchy radicchio is rich in fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C, while the red plums will fill you up with those and antioxidants from its skin. Also in season are the nutritionally-dense squashes, although fresh cucumbers could be used in its place for a brighter, crispier salad.

7 Responses

  1. deb

    This looks wonderful! I’ve been itching to use radicchio this summer in more creative ways, and it looks like you’re onto something tasty.

    Unrelated, but have you heard about this new book of essays, Alone in the Kitchen With An Eggplant? Someone sent me a copy and I am loving it, and I think you might too.

  2. masticator

    That looks and sounds great. I love plums in savory applications – I like to make plum sambal with lots of scallions, cilantro and fresh ginger. It is great with grilled things, especially fish.

  3. bachelor

    Radicchio is also plenty good torn up in a simple salad with lettuce, mixing the bitter with the sweet (you know, like life). Last night I piled the greens and the reds into a big bowl with pale pink beets and snap peas lightly sauteed with onions. Coincidently dressed in a honey mustard vinaigrette (great minds think alike, evidently). Dinner guests were happy campers. Damn, too late to take a picture now!

  4. Yvo

    Mmmm, yummy.

  5. Les

    great blog ;D its delicious, fun and practical!

  6. vanessa (of vanesscipes)

    So, where do YOU get your recipe ideas?

  7. Judith

    That digression on the name Panzanella made me laugh out loud, though now I’m starting to picture Raddichio and Marco on the motorcycle together, haha. I don’t normally go for salad recipes (I always think “who needs a recipe for salad??”) but I might try this one. I like the bread idea, even though I don’t normally keep bread in the house. It’d be a good excuse to go grab a loaf.

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