i know it's not very original to be all "i only want to eat salads in the summertime," but it's just the straight up truth. when the humidity settles over philadelphia, it kind of feels like slightly damp pantyhose has been pulled over your face. not appetizing.
while i've heavily considered adopting a temporary diet of ice cream and beer, my summertime fitness regimen (tennis! swimming! yoga!) demands at least some vegetable consumption. plus, vegetables are just freakin gorgeous right now, and denying them would truly be a crime. so...salads. there are thousands of varieties, and i like every last one of them. especially salads with a little something extra - grains, nuts, avocados. after all, salads aren't the most filling dinner dish (that's what makes them appealing in the heat in the first place), which is fine and everything until about 10PM when your belly starts harassing you for a late night snack.
that's why i'm a big fan of panzanella - bread salad! just that little extra carbiness can really round out the salad and fill up your tum. it's also the perfect way to use the heel of the baguette that always seems to get stale before you can use it up. old bread is actually preferable in this recipe, a la croutons and french toast. plus, you know how when you make a killer salad dressing, you mop the remainder off your plate with a piece of bread, because you can't bear to waste even a tiny drop of the stuff? panzanella is the salad and the salad sponge all in one! it's hard to explain, but even though soggy bread sounds weird, in this salad it is supremely enjoyable.
Panzanella (Bread Salad)
adapted from "The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen" by Donna Klein
~ makes a nice big bowl ~
~ takes about 20 minutes ~
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt, and a little more to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (orig recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but that seems like A LOT)
2 tablespoons veggie broth or red wine
2 tablespoons red wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
black pepper, to taste
6 cups cubed, stale french baguette or italian bread
2-3 cups chopped tomatoes, or halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley (optional)
1/2 cup good olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional, but adds some good protein)
- whisk the first 7 ingredients together in a big salad bowl. throw in some mustard if you're feeling adventurous!
- remove two tablespoons of the dressing and put aside for later.
- add the bread cubes to the dressing and toss well. let the bread sit for about 15 minutes to soak up all the flavors. while it's marinating, you can prep the rest of the salad stuffs.
-after 15 (and up to 30) minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, add the reserved 2 tablespoons of dressing, and toss well to combine. you can serve over salad greens, or just eat as is!
with the tomatoes (i have red and green here), cucumber, and red onion, check out the super pleasing rainbow action going on here! get into it.