This week's challenge from my new group, the Barefoot Bloggers was to create a beautiful salad called Panzanella from "Barefoot Contessa Parties" by Ina Garten. Thanks to Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen for such a wonderful choice. On looks alone, this salad is worth creating. The flavours are a wonderful Mediterranean mixture, and they really bounce off each other. The raw garlic in the dressing also packs a punch (I might exchange it for roasted garlic next time). Definitely notes of summer for a very cold mid-winter dinner!
I basically followed the recipe as given, although I baked my croutons in the oven with a little olive oil, garlic and parsley, instead of pan-frying. I think this helps them maintain their crunch for a little longer, when they are nestling in with the vegetables and dressing. Next time, I will also flash fry the capers as I think this really lifts them. I might also add some olives...
from "Barefoot Contessa Parties"
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 3cm cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 3cm cubes
1 hothouse unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1 cm slices
1 red capsicum, seeded and cut into 3cm cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3cm 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.