I admit it; my friends spoil me. One close friend, a rather private person, declared to me that she would friend more people on facebook in order to publicize my blog to people who didn't know me. Another friend sends me recipes asking me if they will work for my blog. Yet another wants to host a movie night so that my blog readers who may not know me have a chance to meet me. There are more that these cases of my wonderful friends coming together trying to help me promote my blog. One friend cooked for other people during a weekend and talked about my blog for 20 minutes (her menu was from my blog) and basically forced her guests to take down the website. (not really, but you know.) All these small gestures from my friends, all trying to publicize my blog and help it gain even more support - just tickle my insides and make me smile. I know they all want to encourage me and keep me going and it is truly those small gestures that get me going on the computer on days when I'm tired.
This recipe was one I saw on Ina Garten's Show, and the episode is appropriately titled, "What Are Friends For." It looked so appetizing and I immediately wanted to make it. Coincidentally enough, friend HKL also saw it and decided she would make it - and then sent me pictures and the recipe as well. What are friends for than to send you recipes of yummy food?
A traditional panzanella is an Italian bread salad and it is a way to use up old, stale bread by soaking it in water, squeezing the excess water out and tossing it with dressing and vegetables. This is not that kind of salad - it's really a Greek salad with really yummy homemade croutons mixed together with the dressing, hopefully to suck up all the delicious juices. It's a GREAT one for any potluck (as it needs to be served at room temperature) and a great side for a bbq. Tonight daughters and I had it with the Greek Roasted Chicken and it was gobbled up quickly. I only have one regret and that is I only had crumbled feta vs. chunk feta, as the crumbled feta made the salad not look as clean as I would have liked. However, I think from an eating perspective the crumbled is better as I don't necessarily like a huge chunk of feta to land in my mouth. For the most attractive presentation, cut the vegetables in EQUAL, bite sized chunks. This gives the salad a uniformity, while giving it beautiful color, texture and crunch.
Greek Panzanella (from Ina Garten)
Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 hothouse cucumber, (I used 3 persian/kirby cucumbers) 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 calamata olives, pitted
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
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. (I chose NOT to do the let alone method, as I prefer my salads more crisp and it was also very delicious.)Printable recipe