Tomato-Watermelon Panzanella

This is not your traditional Panzanella salad! Watermelon makes this light and hydrating, a perfect summer side dish!


  • ½ lb watermelon, seeds removed 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled/grated 
  • 1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard 
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves 
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes 
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper 
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar 
  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • ½ loaf day-old ciabatta, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 loose cups) 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 ½ fresh thyme leaves 
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt 
  • 2 pounds watermelon, rind discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 packed cups) 
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch-wide wedges (about 5 loose cups) 
  • ½ pound Persian cucumbers, trimmed and halved lengthwise then sliced ¼-inch-thick 
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1 loose cup) 
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves 
  • ½ cup crumbled feta


Make dressing:  

Add the ½ lb watermelon pieces to the container of a blender and blend until pureed. Add sugar, vinegar, red pepper flakes and ground pepper and blend on low speed until well-combined. With the center of the blender lid removed, slowly add olive oil while blender is on low speed. Return lid piece to blender and increase speed to medium to completely blend. Once emulsified, add mustard, garlic and thyme leaves and pulse a few times to incorporate but not blitz entirely.  


Preheat oven to 350°. Toss ciabatta pieces in olive oil and then sprinkle on fine sea salt and fresh thyme leaves. Toss again and put on parchment-lined sheet pan and into oven. Toast about 8 minutes and then flip bread around with a spatula so other sides can toast. Toast just long enough to get a light golden color everywhere and remove from sheet pan to cool. 

Assemble salad:  

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and basil leaves and toss gently to combine. Add watermelon and feta, toss gently again. Add toasted bread and toss again. Add half of the dressing and toss a final time. Put on serving plates and drizzle each serving with additional dressing.