It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Ok, I know according to the song that line really refers to the Christmas season (or back-to-school in the best Staples ad ever) but in my book, nothing beats the days leading up to the official start of summer.
Who’s with me here? What’s not to love about the warmer weather, longer days, beach visits, pool time and the peak season for some of the most lovely foods on earth?Kick off the summer fruit season with this Honey Panzanella Fruit Salad @tspbasil Click To Tweet
When it comes to all those glorious berries, cherries, peaches, plums. nectarines, etc. etc., often they rarely make it into a recipe at our house because we are too busy eating them on the way home from the farmers’ market or CSA share pick up.
But I wanted to share a recipe that could showcase whatever summer fruit you may have on hand at any time. And since I love me a good panzanella, I thought I’d try out a sweet twist on the classic Italian bread salad using the best fruit summer has to offer.
This is barely a recipe – you can do a solo blueberry panzanella or feature seven different types of fruit like I did here. That’s the beauty of this salad – versatile, no-cook and summerific (<— sorry spell check, I’m making that a word this year.)
Tips for this salad:
- If using berries and/or kiwifruit, mix in right before serving as these fruits are delicate and break down very easily
- Vanilla extract adds a wonderful hint of flavor – you can try other extracts like almond (use 1/4 teaspoon as it is potent), lemon extract, coconut extract or orange extract.
- Try grilling the fruit and/or challah bread before slicing/cubing for a different flavor!
- Swap in cubed pieces of pound cake, angel food cake or cornbread for the challah bread.
- Instead of honey, you can use maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave syrup or whatever sweetener you like – or you can skip it altogether.
Honey Panzanella Fruit Salad
A mash-up of fruit cup and the Italian bread salad – the perfect dish for summer parties, picnics and barbecues.
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- 6 cups Challah bread, cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 7 cups sliced fruit (like cherries, strawberries, blackberries, apricots, kiwifruit, mango and peaches)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup fresh mint, torn
- Honey for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, toss Challah bread and olive oil. Spread on a tray with a lip. Bake in oven for 5 – 7 minutes, until toasted (stir a few times.) Remove from oven.
- While bread is toasting, add cut fruit to a large bowl (if you are using berries or kiwifruit, save until you ready to serve.) Add orange juice, orange zest, 1 tablespoon honey, vanilla and salt. Gently toss and let sit on counter for 15 – 30 minutes. (You can mix together a day early – without the berries – and refrigerate. Let fruit come to room temperature before serving.)
- When ready to serve, add berries and/or kiwifruit (if using), toasted Challah bread and mint. Toss very gently until bread is thoroughly soaked.
- Place in serving bowls and drizzle with extra honey (if desired.)