Pesto makes panzanella recipe pop

By Tammara Fogle | July 1, 2024


With area farmers markets hitting their prime, the hunt is on for recipes that use their produce and other products to best advantage. This recipe from the Tuscan Women Cook program does just that. You can find tomatoes, fresh herbs, artisan bread and cheese, prepared presto and specialty oils and vinegars at many local markets. Feel free to toss in baby zucchini, chives, green onion, radishes and anything fresh and tasty and that catches your eye at the market.

Panzanella with Pesto Dressing

For the Pesto Dressing:

¼ cup pesto, homemade or purchased

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the Salad:

Half a large loaf of Italian bread, cubed (about 6 cups) 

Extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup water

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ red onion, cut into thin edges

24 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

24 pitted green olives, such as Frantic

½ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves

24 small cherry-size mozzarella balls, about 6 ounces, halved

1 small head radicchio

Salt and pepper, to taste

Red wine vinegar, to taste


Toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread on baking sheet and toast in 375-degree oven for 10 minutes or until partially dried out.

Place the toasted bread in a large bowl with water and red wine vinegar and toss.

Spread red onion slices on the baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes stirring halfway through until the onion softens and browns lightly. Scrape the onion into the bowl with the bread.

Add cherry tomatoes, olives, parsley and mozzarella. Shred radicchio leaves and add to bowl. Stir together pesto and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, then toss with ingredients in bowl. Adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil if needed.


4 to 5 cups loosely packed basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

Pinch salt

¼ cup olive oil

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese


Place the basil leaves in a blender with the garlic, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Blend to a purée. Add the pine nuts, parmesan and remaining olive oil. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more oil if necessary.

Farmers Market Recipe Contest

What’s your favorite thing to make using produce and/or products from a local farmers market? Enter our Farmers Market Recipe Contest and you could win a $25 gift certificate to The Spice Merchant. To enter, email joe@theactiveage or send by regular mail to: The Active Age, 125 S. West St., Suite 105, Wichita, KS, 67213. Entries must be received or postmarked by July 10.