In the Bender kitchen: Panzanella

(WTNH)- Blogger and chef Michel Vejar returned to Style to make Panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad. She also made berries in dreamy cream! Her Traveling Epicurean website began 5 years ago.

The Traveling Epicurean – Panzanella

Ingredients for the Panzanella Salad (NOTE: it always a good idea to toast croutons the day before):

  • 1 loaf sour dough bread or ciabatta loaf
  • 2 lbs. assorted tomatoes, reds, yellow, tiger, heirlooms, etc. cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced European cucumber, sliced in 1/2 and seeded…run a small spoon down the center of the cucumber to remove inner seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly slice purple onion
  • 2 tsp garlic puree -put thru garlic press (1 tsp is for the special dressing below, 1 tsp for Panzanella)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • fresh herbs: 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1 tsp chopped oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 cup parsley…all finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 special sauce recipe below

Directions for the Panzanella Salad:

  1. Pre-heat Convection oven to 400º
  2. Make special sauce recipe below and set aside
  3. Cut up sour dough or ciabatta loaf into 1″ cube and place on cookie tray lined with foil
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the cubed up bread pieces and sprinkle with s & p
  5. Bake the bread until deep golden , about 12 minutes …keep an eye on it not to burn
  6. Let croutons cool completely
  7. Cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into approx. 1 ” cubed pieces
  8. Cut cucumber in 1/2 length wise
  9. Peel and seed cucumber running a small spoon down the center to remove seeds then thinly slice cucumber half moons
  10. Cut 1 purple onion in 1/2 and thinly slice
  11. Put garlic thru garlic press
  12. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic puree, herbs and mozzarella to a large bowl
  13. Then add in the croutons, drizzle 1/3 cup of special sauce over salad
  14. Toss and serve immediately…MMM!
  15. NOTE: Add in everything but the croutons and special sauce until right before you are ready to enjoy the Panzanella salad! ENJOY!

Ingredients & Directions for the Special Dressing for the Panzanella:

  • 1 heaping tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Add first 4 ingredients to a small bowl and slowly drizzle in while continuously whisking 1/4 cup olive oil (the Dijon will help to emulsify dressing)

Berries in Dreamy Cream – USE AS A DIP or A TOPPING – Ingredients & Directions:

  • Melt 1 lg container marshmallow Fluff with 8 oz. cream cheese over low heat in a small pan.
  • Whisk to combine while melting, heat thru ONLY to combine to a smooth texture
  • Pour mixture into a small bowl & let cool to room temperature, then place sliced berries into a cup and drizzle cooled marshmallow/cream cheese mixture over berries and top with mint…mmm!

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