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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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra July 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm

oh my gosh, yes, yes to anything with a chilled vinaigrette.

Summer right there….

Thank you!

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Jennifer July 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

It looks very pretty, but I don’t think it would be as pretty if you had left out the spinach. That makes it look salady.

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Heather July 25, 2010 at 6:35 pm

This looks like a tasty recipe that I’m gonna have to tinker with myself! Glad you didn’t include the disclaimer about the “good” ingredients! Those kind of recipes just beg to bring out the 2 year old in me!!

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Allison July 25, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This sounds so yummy. If I had all of the ingredients I’d make it right now. Yes, at 9:00 at night.

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theUngourmet July 25, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I love no cook recipe in the summertime too. This is such a great salad! I like the way you did the bread cubes.

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K Odell July 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Chicken? we all know good mean comes in the form of bacon or sausage. both would be excellent in this recipe. along with wine.

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k odell July 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm

meat- you know what I meant. MEAT

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Chiara July 26, 2010 at 2:31 am

I’m not a feta fan, but this recipe would also be good with (good quality) mozzarella or (good quality) goat cheese, which I have a ton of in the fridge…

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Erica@PinesLakeRedhead July 26, 2010 at 5:41 am

Yummy! I love no-cook summertime recipes. But just to clarify… I can use a store brand dijon mustard? ;)

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Paula July 26, 2010 at 5:57 am

I agree. Fresh basil makes everything better. Love it with vegetables like this.

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Phoo-d July 26, 2010 at 6:05 am

I need to get back on my bread baking wagon so I will have leftover bread in the house again to make a panzanella. This Greek version looks awesome.

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Christine LaRocque July 26, 2010 at 6:26 am

Fresh veg, olive oil and feta? Heaven…

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Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon July 26, 2010 at 6:31 am

I was beginning to think you had forsaken the Barefoot Bloggers. Glad to see that you haven’t and that you did this one your way!

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Justine July 26, 2010 at 6:39 am

I used to follow Ina’s show on the Food Network, until her constant urging for us to use “good” ingredients started to bother me – I get it, I get it, stop nagging at me! So I am thrilled to find that you feel the same way here.

In the summer, I’m all about the no-slaving-over-high-heat recipes, and this is a great go-to. Especially since with only 2.5 mouths in our house, it’s hard to finish an entire loaf of bread in one sitting; day-old bread gets thrown into simple recipes like this one to give it fresh new life. Delicious!

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C @ Kid Things July 26, 2010 at 7:49 am

Ina annoys me, too. Her attitude is much too prissy for my taste. That salad looks so good, though.

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SOCCERMOM July 26, 2010 at 7:58 am

It looks so yummy. I have never eaten feta cheese. What does it taste like? I like most cheeses. Just have never tried this one.

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Nicki July 26, 2010 at 7:59 am

I don’t know that I have ever followed a summer salad recipe. I tend to use whatever is on hand. And if you don’t have good olive oil in your house to start with….

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Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts July 26, 2010 at 8:03 am

Ina is definitely an ingredient snob. I’m not a Rachael Ray fan, but I do love her take on olive oil: “I just buy whatever’s on sale.” I’ve bought a few duds this way, so there are a couple of brands I steer clear of. But other than that my palate isn’t so persnicketty that I can’t be pretty indiscriminate.

As for the recipe – I used to be a panzanelle junkie and I haven’t had it in ages. Thanks for the reminder!

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M @ Betty Crapper July 26, 2010 at 8:12 am

I checked out a bunch of Ina’s cookbooks from the library and found her use of “good” to be pretty annoying. She should have addressed this in a forward not in the actual recipe. With that said, I do love her cooking. :) I really want to try this. It looks yummy.

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Barbara July 26, 2010 at 8:30 am

I don’t think you are going to be a longtime fan of Ina’s if you think she is a bossy britches. :)
Anyway, I love her regular panzanella salad and make it often. I saw her make the Greek version, but must admit I like the original better. Besides, the best part is the toasted croutons soaking up all that expensive olive oil.

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gigi July 26, 2010 at 8:50 am

This has all of the makings of a great dish. Because I believe feta, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion are some of the most delicious things on the planet.

I will have to make this when we get back from our little getaway next week. I should send you my no-lettuce greek salad with chickpeas…kind of along these same lines. We’ve been eating it all summer.

Oh heck, I’m gonna make it with burgers this week. Just remembered I have a huge flat of grape tomatoes I picked up from costco yesterday!

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Contemporary Troubadour July 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

Okay, Kitch. Tell me what makes “good feta” — I know you’ve tasted the real thing. D and I had been wondering before you posted this as he recently bought a block immersed in water from Whole Foods and claims it is particularly salty (I hadn’t been partaking, so no opinion here). This is not the same as what he’d been picking up from Safeway (Athenos brand, no water). What is good feta and where might we find it other than Greece itself?

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Stephane July 26, 2010 at 10:16 am

I found your blog through your comment at URB. I can already tell, YOU are going to be my favorite. I laughed my tuckus nearly into the next galaxy reading your most recent post. (I may be mistaken but I suspect Ina’s tendency to admonish her followers about using good ingredients is something she may have learned from the master bossy-britches, Martha Stewart. ; )

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Foodiewife July 26, 2010 at 10:36 am

OMG! I needed a good laugh, after such a crappy start this morning. I love Ina’s food. I love her recipes. She’s not exactly the high energy gal to watch. Great call on the “good” ingredient. As if. Love your adaptations, too. I’ve finally realized that I need to drop some pounds. I need to follow your recipes a lot closer. Yours are far healthier than mine have been. I’ve missed not coming here. I should, more often. You do make me laugh.

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Eva @ Eva Evolving July 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Ha! Isn’t this the truth? I’d actually love to hear her say, “Go ahead and use the crappy olive oil.”

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Kelly July 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I have fallen off the cliff of tangy. When making a vinaigrette for myself, I leave out the oil altogether. I love the taste of a flavored vinegar!

This salad looks beautiful and sounds delicious!

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Mary Lee July 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Dare I ask why it has to be a hothouse cucumber in the middle of summer?

Sounds good. Definitely not cooking here. Yesterday was 102. Remember that in January when you’re freezing your butt off and wishing you lived somewhere else.

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Tiffany July 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Now that looks perfect for a summer lunch! And I’m with ya, basil makes everything better!

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Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point July 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Maybe she says “use good ingredients” because she’s insecure about her recipes. I mean, with good ingredients and a good recipe, something good is bound to result. But with bad ingredients and a bad recipe? She could be seen as a fraud.

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TKW July 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm

CT: “good” feta, to me, is Greek feta. If I’m going to splurge, it’s going to be on the Greek (imported) kind. It’s so much creamier…you won’t believe it.

Mary Lee: A lot of chefs advocate the use of a hothouse cucumber, mainly because they have fewer seeds and very thin skin. However, use any damn cuke you wish (particularly if you have a garden full)–the salad will turn out well no matter which kind you use!

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Aging Mommy July 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I love feta cheese – when I was pregnant not being able to eat the cheeses I loved, salads with raw egg in and a glass of wine here or there were the things that bugged me, nothing else! So this salad sounds heavenly.

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Jane July 26, 2010 at 7:26 pm

The perfect summer dish! “Shitty olive oil” and “Shitty red wine vinegar?” You crack me up! (And me, sitting here, always and forever wondering if my olive oil IS good enough. Seriously. So many cookbooks mention it I really do agonize over that.)

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Naptimewriting July 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Thank goodness I don’t have to use good veggies or good bread to make a good salad. Just good olive oil and good vinegar. Good grief I need a good drink to waste my good time chopping a good amount to fiber to block absorption of my good bread.
Good gravy.

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Futureblackmail July 27, 2010 at 5:17 am

I have trouble watching Ina on the Food Network – the way she talks, coupled with the camera angles, coupled with all the butter – makes me annoyed.

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Stacia July 27, 2010 at 10:27 pm

After years and years of coming back despite our consistent neglect, our basil finally lost the good fight this season. Sad. We have two teeny-tiny green peppers though. Think I could toss those up with this??

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ck July 28, 2010 at 2:36 am

SHUT UP! I actually have these ingredients in my kitchen and my mouth is watering over this. At 5:30 in the morning. Now, if the squirrels have left any of my tomatoes in the garden I might just be eating this for breakfast.

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WackyMummy July 28, 2010 at 7:29 am

For crying out loud, making something for a recipe is how I get rid of all my bad ingredients! Now what am I supposed to do with it all???

Sounds delicious. I might have to try it, even if it’s so much work chopping and washing and …..

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The Curious Cat July 29, 2010 at 6:41 am

Been wanting to make Panzanella for ages though in the past the idea of soggy bread has put me off but I guess as croutons it would be cool…the cocktail above looks divine too – you’re right…two perfect summer items really…xxx

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Wizzythestick August 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

ROTFL Ina got ina your face didn’t she?

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Maria August 6, 2010 at 5:44 am

I think I love you…Seriously, what’s not to love about that recipe? Only wish the infernal Florida heat hadn’t claimed my basil and tomatoes…

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gigi August 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Made this last Friday and loved it so much we’re making it again tonight. But I was not about to pay $4 for a red pepper, so using green only tonight!

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