Veg-Head Monday: Ina Garten’s Greek Panzanella

July 25, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers must be feeling the summer heat, because July’s recipe of choice is a virtually no-cook enterprise. I like a no-cook enterprise in the summer.

As I scanned this recipe, though, I got a leeetle bit annoyed. Ina instructs us to choose “good” ingredients not one, not two, but three times. In just a short little recipe.

Ina be boss-y.

I mean,  I get what she’s saying–this recipe is so simple that it’s only as good as the ingredients you use.  I get it.  But seriously, does she think I’m going to look at this recipe and say to myself, “This is a perfect opportunity to use my shitty olive oil!  Awesome!  And while I’m at it, I’m going to bust out my shitty red wine vinegar, too!”

I’m actually kind of surprised that Miss Ina Bossybritches didn’t insist that I use the “good” feta cheese, too.  Luckily for her, I’m psychic or something, because I did use the good feta.  Check out the big brain on KitchyWitchy.

Since I am fully incapable of following a recipe to the letter, I tinkered with this one a bit.  I didn’t want to bother toasting the bread cubes on the stove, so I tossed the cubes with olive oil, spread them out on a baking sheet, salted them, and toasted them in a 350 degree oven. Depending on how hot your oven runs, this will take you about 10 minutes.

I also decreased the olive oil in the dressing to 1/3 cup; I like my vinaigrettes on the tangy side. Feel free to follow Ina’s lead if you like a traditional vinaigrette.

I threw in some basil, too, because it’s growing like gangbusters in the garden right now. In my opinion, fresh basil makes everything better. I also had a few rogue handfuls of fresh spinach in the refrigerator, so I invited them to the party.

This salad makes a lovely vegetarian lunch or a side dish at dinner. You can also throw some  leftover rotisserie chicken in there, if you crave something a little heartier. You really can’t screw this one up.  Unless you fail to use good ingredients, you heathens.

Greek Panzanella

recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

serves 6

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, seeded and diced into chunks

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced into chunks

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, sliced into half rounds

1/2 pound feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

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

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.

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