Archive for the ‘salads’ Category

Peep’s Panzanella

I haven’t had a panzanella before.  I’ve seen a few, but never had one myself, let alone made one.  This could be attributed to the fact that I never really liked tomatoes, and bell peppers have always been a love/hate type of flavor for me.   But a friend sent me a link to a panzanella salad, and it looked so good I had to try it myself.  Of course, I had to tweak it a bit.  It’s just in my nature.

I had a little loaf of french bread on the counter that Bikenut bought for some purpose but never got around to eating.  I cut that up into little cubes, tossed them with some olive oil, garlic powder, paprika and dried parsley, and baked them for about 15-20 minutes at 350°F.

When I went to the store to buy all my ingredients, none of the Roma tomatoes I saw looked particularly ripe, so I opted for the tiny little grape tomatoes instead.  I decided to roast them in the oven alongside the bread cubes, rolling them around in the leftover oil on the sheet pan and sprinkling them with a little sea salt.   I know, it goes against the freshness of the salad, so feel free to just toss them in raw if you prefer.  The roasting sweetened the tomatoes, and I wanted a softer texture from them than I’d get if they were whole in the salad.  I could have cut them in half, sure, but I didn’t want tomato goop all over the rest of everything, and it would be a pain to halve and de-goop that many tiny tomatoes!

While the croutons and the tomatoes were roasting away, I got to work on the rest of the ingredients.  I had really hoped to keep the green color of the cucumber intact, but I wasn’t able to find any hothouse (or English) cucumbers at the market, nor could I find a decent yellow bell pepper.  (What the heck, Whole Foods??)  So, I ended up with the regular old waxy cucumber, which I peeled and seeded, and a red and an orange bell pepper.  I tried to cut everything in even, bite-sized pieces, keeping in mind that everything does actually need to fit in your mouth.  With the knife work and the croutons done, I put all of the veggies and croutons into a large bowl.  I added all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a mason jar, shook it up, poured it over the salad and gave it a good toss.

I had to have a little taste right then, and it was delicious!  It was almost better having let it sit for about an hour so that all the flavors mingled, and the croutons had soaked up some of that vinaigrette and softened (but were still crunchy in the middle.)  I hope you enjoy it!

Peep’s Panzanella

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 small french bread loaf, cut into 1″ cubes (day old/stale bread works great!)
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Garlic powder, paprika, dried parsley, salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces (mix up the colors!)
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade or tear by hand

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:

  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons citrus champagne vinegar (or champagne vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 1/3 cup of your favorite olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  On a large baking sheet, drizzle bread cubes with olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and dried parsley.  Toss to coat.  Move bread cubes to one half of the baking sheet, arranged into a single layer.  On other half of the baking sheet, place tomatoes (whole) and roll in the olive oil remaining on the sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bread cubes are golden brown.
  2. In a small jar, add all vinaigrette ingredients.  Cap the jar and shake until well blended.   (You can also whisk it together in a bowl.)
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the cucumber, bell peppers, onion and basil.  Add the roasted tomatoes and bread cubes, then pour the vinaigrette over and toss.   Enjoy!