Monday, April 16, 2012

Panzenella, aka Italian Bread Salad

Our family loves a good dish of leftovers.

Leftover chili? Tastes even better than the first time you eat it.
Leftover quinoa? The flavors have an extra day or two to marinate, heightening the flavors.

But leftover bread? Not so much.

There’s a reason that if you go to a bakery they sell day-old bread at half the price: old bread’s appeal fades quickly. But here's an Italian spin on what to do with leftover bread, using it in a bread salad or panzenella.

Panzenella is one of those brilliant peasant dishes, that uses an otherwise less-appealing food item, day-old bread, in a way that transforms it into deliciousness. When tossed with sauteed or grilled vegetables, a generous dressing and herbs, the day-old bread shines in a new way.

Italian Bread Salad

1 baguette or so of day-old bread, cut into bite sized pieces, about 3-4 cups
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, sliced
1 zucchini, diced
½ bell pepper, sliced
1 eggplant, diced, sprinkled with a dash of salt and left in a colander to remove some liquid
¼ cup fresh basil, parsley or a combination of both

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Optional Toppings:
Sliced Olives
Sliced Proscuitto
Shredded Mozzarella

Dice the bread and place in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and onion, cook 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, bell pepper and eggplant. Saute for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but not too mushy.

Add the vegetables to the bread and toss well. Sprinkle herbs on top and toss.

In a jar or medium bowl, mix the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Shake if using a jar or stir well, and pour over the salad. Toss well and let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before eating, as this will allow the dressing to soak a bit into the bread.

If using, add the olives, proscuitto, and/or mozzarella.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

Here’ s my vegetarian version:

And SPH’s meatier option:

Either way, an Italian peasant dish fit for royalty!

If your little prince or princess is not into vegetables, this is the perfect recipe to adapt to their palate, allowing them to choose one or two vegetables as a start.

Have a sweet week,

PS--Our meals for the week:

Rainbow Quinoa
Seared Tuna Salad
Pad Thai (working on a Sweet Pea version)
Spinach and Feta Bake (ditto)
Chicken and Cashew Stirfry

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