This watermelon and crumbed mozzarella panzanella salad is a delicious mix of sweet and savoury with rustic chunks of ciabatta, crispy fried cheese, heirloom tomatoes and fresh watermelon. It’s refreshing side that’s perfect for a summer lunch, and the varied flavours guarantee a dish that’s anything but boring.
Watermelon and crumbed mozzarella panzanella salad
- small handful fresh basil leaves
- 80ml ( cup) olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 180g Greek yoghurt
- 60ml (¼ cup) mayonnaise
- 30ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
- 5ml (1 tsp) sugar
- 300g ciabatta
- 20ml (4 tsp) olive oil
- 400g heirloom tomatoes, halved
- 480g watermelon balls
- ½ (about 80g) red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- handful fresh basil leaves
- 2 (300g) fresh mozzarella balls (fior di latte or buffalo mozzarella)
- 30ml (2 tbsp) cake flour
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 60g panko breadcrumbs, seasoned
- oil, to deep-fry
- balsamic vinegar, to serve
For the dressing, heat a pot of salted water. Blanch the basil leaves for 10 seconds and refresh in cold water. Strain. Use a hand blender to blitz the basil and 80ml ( cup) olive oil together until very fine. Strain through a muslin cloth, discard the leaves and season the green oil to taste. Whisk in the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and sugar.
For the salad, preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the ciabatta into chubby wedges or tear into bite-size chunks. Drizzle with the 20ml (4 tsp) olive oil and season to taste. Spread out on a baking tray and bake until golden and crisp, 6 – 8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Toss the bread chunks together with the remaining salad ingredients and season to taste. Set aside while you prepare the cheese.
For the mozzarella, drain and dry the cheese with a tea towel. Dip each ball into the flour, then the eggs and, lastly, into the seasoned breadcrumbs. Repeat with a second egg layer and panko layer. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep pot to 180°C. Once hot, fry the cheese until golden and crisp. Top the salad with slices of the fried cheese and serve with a side of dressing and balsamic vinegar.