White Bean Avocado Panzanella Salad
July 18, 2010

White Bean Panzanella with Creamy Avocado Dressing | The Full Helping

This white bean avocado panzanella salad is so non-traditionally panzanella that I hesitate to even call it by that name. But it’s definitely a bread salad. Crispy, toasted sourdough plays a starring role. It offsets lots of creamy texture from avocado and white beans. The salad is refreshing yet satisfying and perfect for spring or summer.

When I first made this salad, I thought I’d miss the ripe tomatoes that are usually a part of panzanella. However, once I let that expectation go, I was delighted with what I had. The creamy avocado dressing is just a little tart, flavored with basil and lemon. It adds the acidity that tomatoes would usually impart to the dish. It’s a perfect counterpart to creamy pieces of whole avocado, tender white beans, and salty bread cubes.

White Bean Panzanella with Creamy Avocado Dressing | The Full Helping

Building a vegan panzanella salad

A classic panzanella is made with bread, onions, tomato, and vinaigrette. Sometimes cucumbers are included. The idea is for the juices of these juicy veggies to be soaked up by torn or cubed pieces of bread. The salad puts slightly stale bread, which soaks up liquids easily, to good use.

For me, homemade panzanella has become just about any salad with bread, which I know is a stretch. Case in point: my winter root veggie panzanella. I even take liberties with the bread, as illustrated by my vegan cornbread panzanella.

But even when tomatoes and vinaigrette aren’t involved, adding bread to a salad usually creates a good contrast of texture. I love whole grains in a salad, of course. But they can sometimes blend in and get lost with beans or chopped veggies. A hearty bread cube doesn’t.

Creamy avocado dressing

The creamy avocado dressing in this white bean avocado panzanella is key. It adds acidity to the salad, along with flavor from shallots, lemon, and basil. The dressing can be made with white vinegar if you’re out of lemon—I actually like that version a lot, too. The basil screams summer, but it can be replaced with parsley or dill if you prefer.

It’s worth saying that you don’t have to make the dressing for this panzanella. It’s a lovely dressing in its own right, and you can use it on lots of summer bowls and salads. Sometimes I make it for dunking veggie crudites, too. You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a full week.

Storing white bean avocado panzanella

Speaking of storage, if you’d like to store this salad, I recommend keeping all of the components separate. I’ve made traditional panzanella and enjoyed how the bread gets even soggier as it sits in the fridge overnight. But I think this particular bread salad is best when it’s freshly mixed. If you’d like to save a little time, you can chop your radishes and make the dressing in advance. Simply add the greens and fresh avocado pieces and dress it when you’re reading to eat.

Vegan avocado white bean panzanella

White Bean Avocado Panzanella

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini or navy beans (or 1 14.5 ounce can beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 4 cups (heaping) bread of choice (I like sourdough or French bread)

Creamy Avocado Dressing

  • 1/2 small Hass avocado (save the rest for more salad or avocado toast!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed, fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • To prepare the creamy avocado dressing, blend all dressing ingredients together in a blender till smooth.
  • Toss the salad ingredients with as much dressing as you care for (enough to coat everything well). Serve.

 

White bean avocado panzanella close up

Radishes are usually a springtime arrival, but for me, white bean avocado panzanella will always be a summertime favorite. That’s especially true because of the cucumbers, which I eat in and on everything (toast, bagels, sandwiches, salads) in June, July, and August. I never get tired of this bright, cooling lunch, and I hope it’ll give you some pleasure, too.

xo

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    29 Comments
  1. Gena, I had to stop myself mid-way through eating your recipe for panzanella salad to post this comment. The salad is awesome! The dressing by itself is sooooo good. I was licking the top of my blender and I would have licked the bottom if I could have stuck my head in there….lol. Thanks for an amazing recipe!

  2. Hi Gena,

    This is unrelated to your post, but relates to the one you wrote just recently about the Agave controversy. You mentioned that the Stevia plant is a good source for sweetener, and I was just wondering if Truvia (a sweetener derived from the Stevia plant) is all natural. I stay away from sweeteners like aspartame, xylitol, etc., and I noticed some questionable ingredients on Truvia’s label. Erythritol? Rebiana? Are those safe ingredients? Do you have a recommendation for a brand of Stevia sweetener I can buy? Thanks!

  3. You shouldn’t feel guilty about your posting efforts for one second, my dear boo-face! You are more prolific than anyone has a right to expect. That dressing does sound incredible, btw.

    I would write more but I’m going to go ahead and bleep myself out. 🙂

  4. I love Panzanella! You’ve inspired me to whip some up for the fam this week.

    You are so right about posting. It just needs to happen “organically” to be authentic and inspiring. I’ve stopped being a slave to a schedule for my blog. =)

  5. Good work, Gena. But I am more impressed with the dressing b/c I love dressing with OJ in them. I am a sweet girl, though, you know that about me 🙂 so I always do OJ, Agave, EVOO, other spices depending on what I feel like but I need to try to blend it w/ an avo. I hate to take out and dirty the Vita just for dressing (whisk whenever possible for me!) but I may need to get over the extra dishes 🙂

    Posting…you know I post daily and yes, it is a CHORE some days. There are not enough hours in the day many days and I am not sure why I just don’t let a day go and not put up a fresh post. I suppose it’s fear of disappointing others but I really need to honor myself and get over that. So far though, no such luck and I post whether I have the time or not. And if I don’t have the time, unfortunately, it’s my family time or sleep that suffers. Which is wrong, wrong, wrong. I know this. Thank you for addressing it in this post.

    And so jealz of your meetups with Diana. I would LOVE to meet both of you!!

    🙂

  6. Salad looks great…and the dressing! Sounds perfect for this time of year ; )

    I agree with you about posting, Lori and I are always trying to find time. And then we feel guilty that we did not post, we talk about it for hours. But it happens!

    Have a good night!!

  7. Gorgeous! I just photographed and wrote the recipe for mine. It’s such a hearty, “manly” salad. Can I get a fist bump on that? 🙂

  8. That dressing – YUM! I’ve never thought of combining avocado and orange before, however reading it now makes me think it’s an ideal combo. Another winner.

    I think you do a great job of balancing your simpler posts (recipes, food porn etc.) with your more thought-provoking ones. Some days you challenge us to dig deep, other days you reward us with yummmy foods or inspire us to be a little ambitious in the kitchen. While some of your deeper posts have been among my favorites, the variation in depth allows me to muse over the heavier topics for a few days while still getting to hear your voice regularly on the lighter days. I love the vigor that ensues in the comments section associated with the deeper posts, however I’m not sure if that fervency would exist to the same degree if we were challenged with equal heaviness on a daily basis! In other words, in my opinion the balance is great! Kudos to you, my friend 🙂

  9. Totally relate to the guilt feelings when I haven’t posted for a while but I totally believe that REAL life is more important to me, and the posts will come when the posts will come. And it’s better for us (the readers) to hear from you when it is more timely for you! 🙂

  10. Oh yes, bloggers guilt gets us sometimes, doesn’t it?! I have to step back and realize that those who read my blog need me to live a life in order to write about it…even if it is just work and food…at least we are living…and eating well!

    The salad looks delicious and it has been years since I’ve had a panzanella..the gena-fied version sounds like one I would much prefer! The orange and basil dressing sounds heavenly as well.