PANZANELLA WITH A TWIST

 

Panzanella salad is an age-old Italian classic that was a great way to use up stale bread (ahem, no food waste!).

I've added a slightly more modern twist to pump up the nutrient and fill power with avocado and chopped spinach.

When I'm craving this, I purposely make (or buy) bread just to let it become stale!

Avocado, spinach, tomatoes.  Healthy habits, delicious food.

PREP TIME:  20 min

SERVES:  4 as a main, 6-8 as a side

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE SALAD

  • 300 g (roughly 28-30) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

  • 2 cups, loosely packed (80 g) chopped fresh spinach leaves

  • 2 avocados, pealed and cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 2 cups (100 g) cubes of stale, whole-grain bread

  • Salt to taste

 

FOR THE DRESSING

 

       - - - or - - -

 

  • 1 tsp dried basil

  • ¾ cup (180 ml) extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove minced (or 1/8 tsp garlic powder)

 

MAKE YOUR STALE BREAD

 

Ha ha.  But seriously.

 

Sometimes you actually have stale bread.  Sometimes you need to help the process for this salad.

 

Simply cut your bread into bit-sized cubes, toss with a bit of olive oil (and dried basil if you like), and toast in the oven at 350 F/180 C for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool before tossing with the salad. 

MAKE YOUR SALAD

 

1)  Mix pesto and oil together in a large bowl

 

2)  Add tomatoes and bread cubes, season with a pinch of salt, mix well and let sit about 15 minutes.

 

3)  Add chopped spinach and mix well.

 

4)  Slice your avocado just before serving, season with a bit of salt while still on the cutting board, and then gently mix into the salad.

Mix pesto, oil, tomatoes & bread first
Mix pesto, oil, tomatoes & bread first

Let sit for 15 minutes before adding the spinach and avocado.

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SERVE

 

Season with salt and pepper and serve!

Panzanella-Inspired Salad
Panzanella-Inspired Salad

Stale bread, tomato, avocado, chopped spinach, classic basil pesto, olive oil

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Recipe and Photo Credit:  Cathy Menees

COOK'S NOTES

INGREDIENTS

 

*Sometimes you have fresh pesto on hand, sometimes you don't.  Fear not, you can make a quick dressing from ingredients that you have on hand in your cupboard.  Just go easy on it as the dried herbs and garlic powder as they can quickly overpower the fresh taste of the ingredients.

 

The point is, this salad is so yummy with the blend of tomatoes, avocado, olive and bread that you really only need to add a bit of salt.  The bonus and elevation in flavor can comes from the fresh basil and garlic in pesto.  Just play around with it and discover your favorite!

 

 

PROCESS

 

Letting the bread and tomatoes sit for 15 minutes gives bread and chance to soak up that yummy blend of dressing and the juices from the tomatoes.

 

Add the spinach after the 15 minutes so that it doesn't become too wilted and lifeless.

 

Don’t slice your avocado ahead of time – it will go brown.  It will still taste ok, but it won’t look pretty.

 

All chefs tell you to season (i.e. salt) each ingredient (very lightly) to ensure each ingredient has maximum flavor.  This is why I do a pinch of salt in the first mix of tomato and bread, and again lightly on the avocado.

 

Salt REALLY brings on the flavor of the avocado, which is why I think it’s best to sprinkle with salt while it’s on the cutting board – it gives you a good eyeball for how much avocado you have, and thus how much salt.  A little goes a long way!

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