I have been wanting to try a panzanella (bread salad) for a few years but never had, so I was really excited when as Melissa of It’s Melissa’s Kitchen picked Ina's Panzanella for us to try over at Barefoot Bloggers.
Barefoot Contessa Panzanella
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. 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.
I live in a rural area and our grocery selection is very limited, I do a lot of grocery shopping online and quickly placed an order on netgrocer for a few ingredients for this recipe, champagne vinegar, capers, dijon mustard, and kosher salt. I have no problem buying special ingredients for recipes, because it is always nice to have a well stocked pantry and who knows what new recipes I can find that will call for my new ingredients, maybe I'm crazy but I think it's so much fun trying new foods and flavors.
I had some trouble with the fresh basil and you might notice it's missing from my panzanella, undoubtedly altering Ina's desired result, sorry! I sent my husband out to get fresh basil from 'a big city' on his way home from work, he came home with a basil plant, no soil, just roots in water, in a little pastic baggie. The baggie said "keep on the counter and tear off leaves as needed" or something like that, but this poor basil plant must have been sitting in the produce section forever because it was barely edible looking, it has been planted in the front flower bed -- it was either that or just throw it out since I really couldn't use the leaves. Hopefully there is some life left in that little plant and I will have fresh basil of my own (I have hopes of my own little veggie and herb garden next spring...we'll see)
The flavors were a little strong for me, I enjoyed this salad but doubt I'd make it again with that dressing. Also tried capers for the first time and not too sure how I feel about those, whoa tastebuds! My one year old loved them if you can believe that! He is my most adventerous eater :)
I was reading that traditional panzanellas don't have cheese but couldn't help but think I would love some feta or fresh baby mozzarella in this. I did add some parmesan to my serving and thought that really added to the flavor combo nicely.
My lovely veggies, subbed green pepper for the onion, and didn't deseed my cucumber, this one was from my mom's garden and the seeds were still nice and soft so they didn't interfere with the overall texture. Also I completely forgot the tomatoes, I bought cherry tomatoes specifically for this recipe and forgot to add them, oops!
Yum, yum, yum!