Steak & Tomato Panzanella

From late summer through most of autumn, my family gets to enjoy panzanella - a popular Italian salad featuring bread, tomatoes, and more. Why? Because I tend to have a LOT of tomatoes on hand just then. Between my garden, the gardens of friends and family, and my CSA box, tomatoes factor into most of our meals. And this salad is filling and flexible, so what's not to love?

The key to making this meal easy is making the croutons fresh in the air fryer and grabbing my favorite cast iron skillet for searing the steak. The combination of flavors here is absolutely wonderful and even my teenager, who doesn't tend to like steak, asks for more. Cook the steak to your liking and favor keeping the croutons extra crisp - it will allow them to keep texture when tossed with the tomatoes. Also, make sure you serve this right away and don't make more than you'll eat … any leftovers will be a soggy mess within minutes after your meal!

I don't bother with sides for this meal. After all, everything I want is already in the bowl! Pour a glass of something you like and dig in. But again, once you've tossed it all together, get it on your plate and dig in. This is not the salad to take to a potluck … keep it for yourself!

Steak & Tomato Panzanella

  • 2 c. bread cubes - I cubed about a third of a baguette
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. seasoning salt blend of your choice - I used Penzeys Smoky 4/S Special Seasoned Sea Salt
  • 1 lb. sirloin steak, trimmed
  • ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 ¼ lbs. mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ c. torn fresh basil leaves
  • 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes in olive oil and seasoned salt until well coated.

Transfer the seasoned bread cubes to air fryer, and cook at 400°F for 3-6 minutes. Check the croutons at 3 minutes, and continue cooking until the bread is crisp and golden brown. Remove the croutons from the air fryer and set aside.

Preheat a cast iron pan over high heat until a drop of water on the surface skitters across it. While the pan preheats, season the steak with black pepper and half of the kosher salt.

Place the steaks onto the pan. Sear for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks over and sear for 2 more minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook the steaks until they reach your desired doneness. For 1.5-inch-thick steaks: 1-2 minutes (120 degrees F) for rare, 2-3 minutes (130 degrees F) for medium rare, 3-4 minutes (140 degrees F) for medium, 4-5 minutes (150 degrees F) for medium well, or 5-6 minutes (160 degrees F) for well done. Steak temperature will increase by an additional 5 degrees when resting for 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

Chop the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add the chopped tomato, steak strips, croutons, fresh basil, and goat cheese to the bowl; toss. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes