I have found that if I watch the Food Network while I’m hungry, my pile of recipes to tries grows exponentially! This past weekend, I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, my favorite Food Network star, and she made a Panzanella salad. I was starving at the time, so I promptly added it to my list of recipes to try this week!
I looked up Panzanella and it’s a Tuscan summer bread salad. Italians also refer to this dish as “leftover salad”. And, I can see why, it’s a great way to use up vegetables and bread from previous meals.
I think what really drew me to this salad was the variety of colors and textures. Crunchy peppers, tender tomatoes, crisp cucumbers. It sounded perfect for a summer salad.
I have to admit, I’m not sure I would like bread in my salad. Afterall, wouldn’t it get soggy when the vinaigrette was added? Now, if you’ve ready any of my other posts, you know that I LOVE bread. But, I don’t like soggy bread…it’s a texture thing for me. Not big on slimy or slippery foods (which really stinks because I just can get Creme Brulee down, even though I just know it tastes delicious!).
I starting going through my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and found her Panzanella salad recipe in the Parties! book. But, I decided to take it up a notch by switching around some of the ingredients grilling the bread, bell peppers and red onion. Here’s how I did it…
6 slices of bakery Italian bread (I used Wegman’s whole grain Pane bread)
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 English cucumber (unwaxed), seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp fresh basil, coarsly chopped
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Grilled bread, bell peppers and red onion over medium-high heat until bread is brown and toasted on both sides and peppers and onions are slighly charred. Remove items from grill and cut into 1 inch pieces. Put in large bowl.
Meanwhile, chop tomatoes, cucumber, basil and parsley. Add to bowl with bread, peppers and onions.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Add garlic.
Pour vinaigrette over salad. Season liberally with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or allow to sit (at room temperature) for flavors to blend.
Is it a Keeper?
This salad is so incredibly delicious! I’m already thinking about making it again! Like me, everyone was skeptical at first, but after one bite, we were all hooked! Even my 4 year old! He loved it!
Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the dressing when I tasted it before adding it to the salad. It seemed like it was missing something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. However, once I added it to the salad, it was perfect!
And, I think that by grilling the bread, peppers and onions, it really enhanced the flavor.
This is a great picnic recipe too! You don’t have to refrigerate it and it’s delicious served at room temperature.
Alright…now I have to go dig the leftovers out of the fridge and have a snack…I talked myself right into it! A good late night snack!
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