Sunday, 22 August 2010

Greek Panzanella

A Panzanella is an Italian salad that originated in Tuscany and a few other Italian regions. It's referred to as a 'leftover salad' because it often uses day-old bread and you can easily change up the other main ingredients to include : tomatoes, cucumbers, capers, bell peppers, tuna, boiled eggs, anchovies .... The options for ingredients are almost endless. The dish I made is a Greek version that I found while surfing on the food network.
Normally, when I mention that I'm making a salad for dinner the immediate response from my kids (and sometimes Brad) is "Are there croutons???". Yes, we are self-proclaimed carb addicts - we should have T-shirts made and a theme song. So when I found this recipe I was pretty sure that my family would love it.
I was right. The kids looked into the salad and were amazed at how many 'croutons' there were. When I told them it was a bread salad you could see grins slowly form on their mouths. Salad without lettuce?!?! Three cheers for Mom!! Brad loved the fact that the bread cubes had marinated in the dressing so when you bit into a bread cube the outer edges were still crispy but the inside had a burst of flavour. Mmmm.
When I made this dish last week I didn't have any day-old bread so I just used a fresh French loaf and might have had to saute the bread cubes a little longer than normal to ensure that they were nicely browned (it's not like I had a timer on for browning bread cubes). This would make a great lunch dish but we used it along with some pork skewers in a great molasses, Dijon glaze (will post recipe soon).

Good olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 small French bread cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 English cucumber, unpeeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into large pieces
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (cherry tomatoes should be halved)
1/2 red onion, sliced into half rounds
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt (see Note below)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large, deep skillet. Add bread cubes and sprinkle with salt. Cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for 5-10 miutes until nicely browned. Add more oil if needed.

Place cucumber, red and yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large salad bowl.

Make vinaigrette: Whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 tsp salt and the black pepper in a small bol. While still whisking, add the oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and toss until well coated. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavours to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Note: I decreased the salt from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp because I found the salad a bit too salty.

Recipe adapted from:

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