I am not sure if this pertains to you as well, but one of my favorite parts of a salad is the croutons.  Not just one of them, by the way.  For me, the more croutons the better.  Well, have you ever heard of a panzanella salad?  It's basically a salad that's built around bread.  Think croutons, but softer.

Monday morning, on our weekly What's Cookin'? segment, Merritt Bates Thomas, from the Green River District Health Department, served up an absolutely delicious panzanella salad.  It's relatively quick and easy to make!

You're gonna love this!  Here's the recipe.

PANZANELLA SALAD

5 slices of Italian bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (approximately 5 cups)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning blend, ground
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small cucumber - peeled and thinly sliced
4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 - 3 ounces baby spinach leaves
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Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spread the bread cubes on a baking pan and lightly coat with olive oil.  Toast for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven until lightly browned.  Let cool, then transfer to a large bowl.  In a salad dressing shaker or small bowl using a whisk, mix the vinegar with the ground Italian seasoning blend and olive oil.  Add the tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, mushrooms, scallions, spinach leaves, and dressing.  Toss until evenly coated with dressing.

And, I feel like I need to add this.  Merritt and I were chatting about salad dressings after our segment Monday.  We're in agreement that the absolute best salad dressing is a simple combination of red wine vinegar and olive oil.  That's precisely what this recipe calls for.  It's crisp, refreshing and delicious.

Enjoy!

What's Cookin'? is sponsored weekly here on WBKR by Kentucky Legend.

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