Last week, our salad experiment was kind of a bust. So this week I am taking my big sister’s advice, which means I can blame her if it goes awry! Her suggestion was to make a version of panzanella salad.
A panzanella is essentially a salad of stale bread, tomatoes and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. That is the base of it and other ingredients can be added to make it more of a meal. I am going to include mozzarella cheese, roasted peppers and some prosciutto. A salad with cheese and bread – might just work!
Don’t have any stale bread? Not a problem. I had some pancetta bread, fresh from a trip to Arthur Avenue (the Bronx’s “Little Italy”), which I cut into bite size pieces and toasted. Any bread will do, just make sure it is the consistency of a crouton. I also crisped up the prosciutto and crumbled it to mimic bacon bits. For the tomatoes I used the smallest, sweetest variety I could find and since I had lots of salty ingredients, I went with a honey Dijon dressing for some sweetness.
This is such a simple salad to prepare and extremely easy to manipulate according to different tastes. I think I covered all the bases so let’s get to the tasting!
Mozzarella Panzanella Salad
6 thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto
1 cup stale bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 roasted red pepper, diced into bite size pieces
1 roasted yellow pepper, diced into bite size pieces
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 lemon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread prosciutto slices on a baking sheet and bake in oven approximately 15-18 minutes. Let cool and crumble into small pieces. (Can be done ahead – refrigerate in airtight container)
If you are starting with fresh bread, place bread on a baking sheet and bake in oven with prosciutto, approximately 10 minutes, until toasted. Let cool before adding to salad. (Can be done ahead- store in airtight container)
Combine the bread, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and proscuitto crumble in a large mixing bowl.
For the dressing whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Use about 3 Tbsp of the dressing to drizzle over the salad and refrigerate the rest. You can keep the dressing for several weeks, just shake well before serving.
Lastly, sprinkle the fresh basil over the top of the panzanella and serve!
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 5): “I don’t like the peppers but cheese, bread and bacon, THUMBS UP!
Liam (age 3): “This salad makes me mad”
Dylan (age 3): “Little boys don’t eat salad!” “I like the sauce you made but the salad part tastes like a leaf – yuck”
Okay, I confess, I did promise a cookie for dessert if they tried the salad. But amazingly enough, once they did eat some they seemed to genuinely enjoy it. Even Liam, although he would NEVER admit it!