Greek Panzanella Salad

March 5, 2011

Margaux says…

I’ve made this salad a few times in the past month or so, in order to combat these winter blues (salads always give me hope of spring!).  I saw it on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, and decided to make it for my mom when we went home one weekend, because it sounded like something she would love.  It was very simple to make, and it was a hit!  I’ve made it a couple more times since then, once as the main course for just my husband, son and me, and once as a side dish for company.

Greek Panzanella
from a Barefoot Contessa episode, by Ina Garten

Ingredients

* Good olive oil
* 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
* Kosher salt
* 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
* 1 red bell pepper, large diced
* 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
* 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
* 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
* 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
* 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup good olive oil

Directions

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.

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

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Aunt Suzy says

My friend Karen Allinder put a picture of this on Facebook after one of her Five-Star Dinner Club gatherings and then sent me a message that I had to make it.  I had already made a mental note to ask for the recipe after seeing the picture!   I’ve been waiting until the time when cukes and watermelons are in our marketsat the same time.   I was a little suspect of adding cashews at first, but they provided a perfect crunch.  I tried it with and without the recommended feta cheese, and while I like it with, I prefer it without.  Try it both ways to decide for yourself.  Either way,  it is refreshing and delicious.

4 cups watermelon, 1/2-inch dice

1 cucumber, seeds removed, 1/2-inch dice

1/2 red onion, sliced and cut in 1/4 rounds

a handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

a handful of roasted, unsalted cashew pieces

a handful of feta cheese crumbles

Place the sliced onion in water to soak while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Place the watermelon, cucumber and mint in a bowl.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  When ready to assemble the salad, remove these with a slotted spoon to another bowl (so there isn’t so much juice in the bottom).  Drain the onion and cut the slices in fourths.  Add the mint and the onions to the watermelon-cuke mixture and toss with the olive oil and lemon.  Immediately before serving add the cashews and the feta, if using.