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East Coast Panzanella Salad


This recipe is adapted from one by Kelly Neil of Halifax, where the donair is ubiquitous – so much so that it became Halifax’s official food in 2015.

The meatballs are so yummy, they are delicious just served as dinner with pasta or rice along with the salad dressing.

Kelly has incorporated them into a Panzanella Salad – a mash-up of the Halifax donair and the classic Italian bread salad. The measurements for the salad are simply guidelines. Feel free to add more or less onion, cheese, dressing, basil etc. to suit your tastes.



East Coast Panzanella Salad

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 12 to 14 baked donair meatballs (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread
  • 1/2 cup bocconcini or any fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • Sweet Creamy Garlic Dressing, to taste (recipe follows)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn (for garnish)

Donair Meatballs

  • 1 lb (500 g) Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 tsp EACH salt and dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Sweet Creamy Garlic Dressing

  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed


To Make East Coast Panzanella Salad

  1. Cut red onion into very thin slices; place in a small bowl and cover with red wine vinegar. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes while preparing the salad.
  2. If using cold, cooked meatballs, warm them in a skillet over low heat while you prepare the salad.
  3. For Salad: Tear or cut the sourdough bread into bite-sized pieces; place in a large bowl with the torn mozzarella and sliced sundried tomatoes. Drain red onion and add to bread along with warm meatballs. Drizzle with some of the dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing to taste if desired. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of kosher salt and torn fresh basil leaves

To make Donair Meatballs

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together by hand until well combined. Note: for true donair texture, pulse the meat in a food processor, in small batches, until smooth.
  2. Roll into 12 to 14 small balls; bake in 350ºF oven on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven; keep warm if making salad right away or cool and refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.

To Make Sweet Creamy Garlic Dressing (makes approximately 1 cup thin dressing)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.