Strawberry Panzanella Salad

This spring salad is mostly made up of strawberries and fried bread. FRIED BREAD. Oh, and fresh mozzarella to seal the deal. It’s easy to make ahead, so this makes a perfect side dish for Easter!

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

Today I went down to my parent’s house in Manteca, and my mom and I sorted through some old boxes of my stuff.

(Manteca is where I grew up and it means “lard” in Spanish. Somebody commented on my blog today, “I am so glad to have found you, and these, although my bum is not.” I’m sorry about your bum, Abbie, but I come from a town called Lard. It’s not my fault. Even the salad I’m posting today is ruined with fried bread. YES FRIED BREAD.)

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

But anyway, back to the old boxes. Are you a packrat? I’m not. I throw everything away, and somehow I still feel like my house is full to the brim. But my mom convinced me to hang on to some of my old stuff:

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

Fattest baby/cutest kindergartener award!!

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

I share a birthday with my Uncle Jim. I think it’s clear that that cake is really all mine though.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

POGS!!! Also, me and my bro Nate performing a legendary rendition of “There’s a Hole in the Bucket Dear Liza.”

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

I’m not in these photos. It’s my sister Nikki. I just really wanted you to see that dress/hair combo and All The Stonewash. The photo on the right is Nikki on top of White Lightning, our family station wagon. I texted her this photo and she said, “I remember that. December of 1998. The shoes were popular in 1988 btw. Posterity will hardly notice the difference.” I think she’s right.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

I laughed so hard when I read this poem. Like mother like daughter… On the right, me in London where I travelled with my high school choir as the piano accompanist. Or maybe that’s just a cover for my secret Superman identity.

It’s so weird to see your entire life in a box. Baby announcements right next to high school term papers. I found a letter from a congressman congratulating my parents on my birth. I guess that used to be a thing? Weird right?? My high school reunion is this year. (10 years! How?) I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go, but after going through all this stuff now I kind of want to.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

Panzanella! Do you love it? My friend Kate told me about this AMAZING salad she had in a restaurant a few weeks ago, and I had to recreate it. She came over as I was doing the shoot and I asked her if it looked right, and she just said MORE STRAWBERRIES. More strawberries than greens. My kind of salad.

Can we talk about fried bread?

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

Why is this not more of a thing? I mean, I’ve fried dough. I’ve fried tortillas. Why not bread? Croutons are usually baked. But Kate told me to fry, and who am I to argue? Best. thing. ever. Eric and I ate the leftovers warm with syrup. I will be coming up with some way to breakfast this idea, just you wait.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Food Charlatan

The fried bread can be made 1 day ahead of time, so this is a perfect salad for Easter. In fact, the entire salad can be prepped the day before, except the mozzarella. Save that until the last minute so that it doesn’t dry out. And of course keep the bread separate so that it doesn’t get soggy.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad

Yield: Serves 6-10

Recipe by The Food Charlatan


  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 pound loaf of french bread, day old works great
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 to 16 ounces mixed greens of your choice
  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3 ounce bunch of basil, chiffonade*
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • balsamic vinaigrette, I like Newman's Own


  1. In a high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. While the oil gets hot, slice the bread into bite size cubes.
  3. Test a piece of bread in the oil. If it immediately starts to bubble, it's ready.
  4. Fry the bread in several batches. Stir the bread frequently so it doesn't stick to the pan. When the cubes are golden (about 3-4 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper immediately. At this point you can store the bread for up to 24 hours on the counter.
  5. When you are ready to serve the salad, add the greens to a large salad bowl. (Use however much you want--it's totally up to you. A traditional panzanella has no greens.)
  6. Add the strawberries, basil, and mozzarella, and toss. Add as many croutons as you think you will eat, or all of them if you anticipate finishing off the salad. (Once the croutons are combined with the salad, they will start to get soggy, so if you anticipate leftovers it's best to add them a little at a time.)
  7. Dress the salad with balsamic vinaigrette and serve.


*Stack up the basil leaves, roll it up, then slice thinly.

Other salads that would be great to serve on Easter:

Strawberry Blue Cheese Salad:

Copycat Cafe Zupas Poppyseed Dressing and Spinach Bleu Cheese Salad from

 Pineapple Spinach Salad:

Pineapple Spinach Salad from The Food Charlatan

Cilantro Lime Cucumber Salad:

Cilantro-Lime Cucumber Salad


More Panzanella from other bloggers:

Honey and Strawberry Panzanella Salad from The Housewife Training Files
Caprese Panzanella Salad from Spicy Perspective
Chickpea Panzanella from The Clever Carrot

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