Panzanella Salad

June 5, 2007 · 2 comments

in greek,italian,salads,vegetarian

To keep myself from eating the entire loaf of French bread I bought yesterday, I decided I had to plan a meal for tonight that would use it up. That way, I would be dinnerless if I was a piggie and ate it all :)

I decided to go with a fresh, summery panzanella salad with lemon-basil vinaigrette. We had this with some grilled flank steak. Nothing terribly exciting there. Just marinated it with some Mediterannean flavors and grilled it.

The salad makes 2 big portions, or 4 smaller portions.

Panzanella Salad
4 oz (about a 5″ long chunk) French or other day-old bread
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 large cucumber, cut into chunks
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
4 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2″ pieces
8 kalamata olives (which I forgot to add until after I took the pic :)
Lemon basil vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Make the vinaigrette first so the flavors can meld as you are prepping the rest of the salad.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes max. Immediately put asparagus into an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Cut bread into 1″ pieces. I decided to leave about half the crust on, but that’s your call. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the EVOO and the garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bread and a pinch of salt. Toss the bread around to coat with the oil and cook until browned, about 6 or 7 minutes (alternatively you could spray/drizzle the bread with the oil and bake in a 300 degree oven for 8-10 minutes). Remove the garlic.

Toss asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, peppers and feta and toasted bread with vinaigrette and serve.


Lemon-basil vinaigrette

Now, most vinaigrettes recipes call for anywhere from a 1:2 to a 1:4 ratio of vinegar to oil. However, I really love a tangy, acidic vinaigrette so I tend to go for the exact opposite. The added bonus is there is less fat :)

1 clove garlic
1-2 Tbsp fresh basil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or to desired consistency/taste

Combine garlic, basil, lemon juice and vinegar into a food processor. Pulse until garlic and basil are in small pieces.

Stream in olive oil until desired consistency.

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