Let’s face it, after the delicious overindulgence of Thanksgiving it’s really hard to get back into the healthy lifestyle you’ve been working so hard for since last New Year’s Day. It’s especially difficult going back to work and staying on point during your precious 1 hour lunch break. 4 day weekends are never long enough but the habits you created somehow seep right into your work week. Martini at 10am anyone?! No? Just me? Cool.
That’s why I love this recipe! Let’s just start by admitting that Panzanella basically means Bread Salad. And there is really nothing wrong with that. Because it’s not just bread; it’s lots of beautiful fresh vegetables and colorfully light ingredients that surround this crunchy/soggy bread to make a Tuscan specialty so perfect you could eat it every day. And for the next 2 days, we will. The traditional Panzanella usually comes with Mozzarella cheese which is a fabulous addition but I made mine using black Kalamata olives instead. The distinct saltiness is the perfect substitute to the dairy in this salad, making it a great vegan option. I love making a huge bowl of this for dinner and packing the rest in my Bentgo boxes for work the next day. It’s the most wonderful His&Her’s compromise because he loves his sandwiches, and she is watching her waistline.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 loaf crusty (stale) sourdough bread
3 cups mini heirloom tomatoes
2 Persian cucumbers
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 medium red onion
1 cup pitted black Kalamata olives
3 – 4 tablespoons capers
A handful of fresh basil leaves
For the dressing:
1/4 cup really good extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon brown mustard
A few splashes of Apple Cider Vinegar
A few pinches of sea salt and crushed black pepper
1. Chop all your vegetables to fairly large chunks. This is meant to be a hearty chunky salad, no small dices necessary.
2. Toss vegetables, capers, & olives in a bowl and let sit.
3. Tear your bread into rustic 1.5 inch pieces.
4. Heat oven to 350 & line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Toss your bread in a little bit of olive oil and season to your liking. I like to add salt, pepper, dry basil, garlic powder, & nutritional yeast. (You can find my detailed recipe for these Noochy Croutons here)
5. Spread your seasoned bread on the baking sheet evenly and pop in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes, flipping around once halfway through.
6. While your bread is baking it’s time to make the dressing. So easy, are you ready? Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl and mix vigorously until it’s all blended together. Taste. Good? Great! You’re done!
6. When your bread has cooled, toss gently in a large bowl with vegetable mixture. Add all your dressing and mix well.
Top with a chiffonade of fresh basil and enjoy!
This recipe will be coming soon to Bentgo.com – My favorite Office Lunch accessory!