I had never ate Panzanella let alone heard of it until last summer. My mom found this recipe in her Ina Garten cook book and gave it a try. Since then it has been served a few times at both of our houses last summer and this summer. If you don't know what Panzanella is, basically it's a raw vegetable salad with cubes of bread and cheese tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. The bread is crispy, the cheese salty, the vegetables crisp so all of the different textures and flavors put together make it refreshingly delicious. To me it's perfect for an easy, light, summer meal that doesn't require much cooking. If you are looking to make it into a dinner and vegetables simply aren't enough for you it pairs nicely with a piece of grilled chicken.
Ingredients for Salad:
1 Pint Grape Tomatoes - Sliced
1 Yellow Pepper - Largely Diced
1 Red Pepper - Largely Diced
1 Cucumber - Unpeeled, Seeded and Diced
1 Small Loaf of Fresh Sourdough Bread (Or 2 Bread Bowls) - Cubed
8oz Feta Cheese Block - Cubed
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
(Optional - 1/2 Cup Calamata Olives - Pitted)
(Optional - 1/2 Red Onion - Sliced)
Ingredients for Vinaigrette:
2 Cloves Garlic - Minced
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Ground Pepper
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com (Ina Garten)
Start by prepping all of your vegetables and place them in a large bowl, set aside. Next cube your bread. The bakery I went to didn't have any sourdough loaves so I opted to purchase two bread bowls, they worked just as good in my opinion. In your largest pan, heat 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil over medium heat. Add the bread cubes, sprinkle with salt and cook tossing frequently for about 10 minutes. You can drizzle more olive oil on top and toss if you feel that not all the cubes have been covered. The goal is for all of the bread cubes to be slightly crispy and brown.
In a small bowl combine the Dijon mustard, oregano, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper using a whisk. While still whisking, pour the olive oil in to the bowl to make the vinaigrette. Whisk for about 15 more seconds. Pour the vinaigrette over the bowl with the vegetables.
Add the cubes of feta cheese and gently toss all of the vegetables and the cheese in the vinaigrette. If you are using the olives this would be were you would add them in as well. I'm not an olive fan so I've left them out of this recipe. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes so the vegetables can soak up some of the vinaigrette flavor.
About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve the salad, dump the crispy cubes of bread on top and toss it all together. This way the bread still remains hard but is allow to soak up a little bit of the vinaigrette. Just a suggestion from me... if you don't intend on eating the whole salad at once and know you will have some leftovers I wouldn't add all of the bread at once, and I also suggest storing the bread separate from the salad then, tossing it together a few minutes before you are ready to eat it again.
Enjoy!! - Nicole
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