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Chef Jon Ashton Panzanella Salad

This Panzanella Salad and Italian Pasta Salad Pair with All Your Favorites

Side dishes don’t always get the glory in our favorite meals, but that’s about to change. This week, we’re turning our appetites to a couple of side salads that are anything but an afterthought, reminding us of the many choices at our fingertips for leisurely lunches al fresco at Marketplace. Blending delightfully complex and contrasting ingredients and flavors, Chef Jon’s Panzanella salad with mozzarella and honey Dijon and perfect Italian pasta salad will not only complement your favorite summertime entrées, they may even steal the show. They also happen to pair beautifully with a glass of bubbly prosecco or Aperol Spritz.

The shopping lists for these signature salads are colorful, nutritious and tasty, calling for summer’s best and packing almost a day’s worth of nutrition into two single dishes (meaning easy, breezy meal planning for you). Green-thumbed gastronomists may only need to venture as far as their own backyard to prep this week’s pantry. Whichever “market” you favor, gather your ingredients and join Chef Jon Ashton in the kitchen and cook along LIVE this Sunday, July 12 at 3 p.m. ET on the Crystal Facebook page.

Entrées optional.

Panzanella Salad with Mozzarella and Honey Dijon Dressing
By Chef Jon Ashton


1 small sourdough loaf, cubed
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, bashed
2 large ripened tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 English cucumber, diced to ¼ inch
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
½ red onion, diced
Large handful basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
8 ounces (225 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and patted dry
¼ cup (32 g) kalamata olives, chopped

Honey Dijon Dressing: 

1 garlic clove, pureed (garlic press)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons (45 ml) champagne vinegar
½ cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Toss bread pieces with oil, thyme, and garlic and arrange bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in preheated oven and toast bread pieces until just starting to turn light golden, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Feel free to add any more oil if needed. Season toasted bread with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

For the dressing: 

In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and olives. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Serves 8 

Perfect Italian Pasta Salad
By Chef Jon Ashton


1 pound fusilli pasta, cooked via box instructions  
Salt and pepper
½ cup (115 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and minced
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) red pepper flakes
1 cup (128 g) pepperoncini, stemmed plus 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brine from jar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, rinsed
2 cups (254 g) baby arugula
20 fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ cup (64 g) oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes sliced thin
½ cup (64 g) pitted kalamata olives, quartered
ounces (110 g) soppressata, cut into 3/8-inch dice
4 ounces (110 g) mortadella, chopped
8 ounces (225 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 3/8-inch dice and patted dry


Heat a sauté pan to medium high. Add oil, garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat to dissolve anchovies (takes about two minutes). 

Divide pepperoncini in half and slice thin rings and set aside. Transfer one half of pepperoncini to food processor. Add capers and pulse 8 to 10 pulses until finely chopped. Use your spatula to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add pepperoncini brine and warm oil mixture and process until combined (about 20 seconds).

Add dressing to pasta and toss to combine. Add arugula, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, soppressata, mortadella, and mozzarella and reserved half of pepperoncini and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serves 8 

Crystal’s Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience program brings several elements of the renowned Crystal Experience directly to guests, wherever in the world they are. “Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton” represents the culinary excellence found aboard Crystal ships, as some of the greatest travel memories are created over the greatest meals.

Crystal invites travelers to book now and save with added peace of mind and flexibility as we look ahead to sailing together again.

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Posted on February 17, 2021