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Cheese to Accompany Panzanella Salad?

Hi all,

Looking for some assistance finding the right cheese to go with the below salad ingredients. Any suggestions are appreciated.


Baby spinach leaves
coarsely chopped roma tomato
day old crusty italian bread, ripped up
fresh sweet corn, cooked
salt & pepper
extra-virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing

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  1. honestly? i'd omit the corn. all the other components add up to a traditional Tuscan panzanella...for which you could use shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, bocconcini or cubed mozzarella, or even burrata. but the corn just throws it off. it doesn't really belong, IMHO.

    the other option would be to keep the corn and change up some of the other ingredients, maybe take it in more of a Mexican direction. cilantro instead of basil and red wine or sherry vinegar instead of balsamic; season with a little toasted cumin...then some crumbled Queso Fresco or shaved Cotija would be perfect.

    4 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      thanks so much for the suggestions!!! i will skip the corn and go for some nice parm, but maybe next time i will try the mexican variation. all great ideas - and much appreciated - i still have lots to learn.

      1. re: tatum780

        Ricotta Salata might be nice too, or a mild French feta. I'd also skip the corn.

        1. re: tatum780

          i'd also skip the corn. and the spinach. maybe fresh basil instead.

          not sure why you even need cheese? sometimes less is more. :) if you feel compelled to serve cheese, a nice strong aged asiago or parm would be nice, on the side though. maybe a plate of olives, artichoke hearts and a wedge of cheese. mixing it in defies the spirit of the salad.

        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I agree with gh, the corn doesn't seem to go. I would use a fresh mozzerella but I like sliced circles or half moons. Shaved aged gouda is my love, but parm would work too. I'd even say grilling a cheese might be nice, to bring out the basil and wilt the spinach a bit. But that's the way I like it. Of course warm croutons. It might not be traditional but I do like the warmth of the salad with the cheeses.

          For myself, I do love Balsamic and especially a creamy Balsamic or even red wine vinegar and oil... and to address the garlic, I would rub the bread after toasting with a fresh clove to get that into the salad. Fresh cracked pepper, and sea salt.

        3. I'd throw some manchego in there.

          1 Reply
          1. I would go with a fresh sheep cheese (tuscan, manchego, pecorino sardo, etc. or mozzarella for this. I was going to suggest a red wine vinegar as more correct but I think the balsamic probably works better with the spinach you are including.

            doesnt garlic belong in this recipe?

            Make sure your bread is toasted/dried out and moistened and wrung out - you dont want it to absorb too much of the dressing.

            Good luck!

            1 Reply
            1. re: jen kalb

              Agree with Jen--a young pecorino, but one with some mild funk, and mozzarella would be first choices for me. Watch out, though, for those tough looking pecorinos that were not aged but simply handled or stored poorly here--taste for a fresh, fragrant, slightly soft feel. A mild caciocavallo, provolone, or scamorza is fine, too.

            2. If you leave out the corn, you could also use some really soft, sweet gorgonzola. Heat up the oil and vinegar before serving and then when you pour it over it will slightly wilt the spinach and melt the cheese a bit.

              1. Fresh goat might be nice. Toss the salad with the dressing first, then add the cheese in crumbles and the toss again lightly just to incorporate. I usually toss the bread cubes with vinaigrette in the bowl first, then add the goodies and then the cheese (tossing each time you add).

                1. i'd have manchego, but on the side. cheese in the salad seems like it'd muck up the summery flavors of the produce. also, i wouldn''t use romas, but a juicier tomato.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: alkapal

                    Here here! Absolutely, the jucier the tomato the better, I so love the fresh juice of a tomato in my salad, always always use it. But do toss the seeds.

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      i just saw josé andrés' panzanella, and i wanted to jump through the tv screen, it looked so yummy.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Something must be in the air. I made some bread today especially for a bread salad. I was thinking a chicken and bread salad ala Zuni Cafe. Yumbadee!

                        1. re: alkapal

                          There must be something in the air. I made bread today specifically to make Zuni Cafe Bread and Chicken Salad. I have a pile of veggies that need to be tended to in my fridge - I am making salad with bread. Not a one of those veggies are good for salads.

                      2. re: alkapal

                        right just to clarify, I was thinking WITH rather than IN the salad myself - tho the recommendations are the best I can think of if you want to put it into the salad as well.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          jen, just looking at the josé andrés site, i saw a delicious recipe using beautiful ripe tomatoes and cubes of red-wine-soaked spanish goat cheese, with some sherry vinegar.
                          my body must be craving some veggies -- esp. tomatoes -- 'cause i could gobble that up right now.

                      3. Yes, ditch the corn. Ditch the balsamic too. I have been adding crumbled feta to panzanella this year, but you really don't need cheese at all.