Panzanella Salad


When I wrote my recent post about my “Hearty and Refreshing” Arugula Salad, I definitely struggled over the title.  Are “hearty” and “refreshing” oxymoronic?  And if so, how better to describe a salad which is at once light, zesty and supremely satisfying?  And now, I give you another data point to consider: a hearty salad with a cornucopia of flavors, all harmonizing beautifully, which both sates and invigorates.

Panzanella is a wonderful concept — using day-old or even stale bread to make a fantastic and substantial salad — and can be endlessly varied.  A former classmate of mine from Needham (another Sweet Basil adherent, perhaps?) offers both a traditional recipe and some ideas for variants on her blog, Two Blue Lemons.  As for me, I don’t see much need for tweaking with this recipe, which combines savory roasted garlic, tangy marinated onions, sweet mozzarella and lots of fresh herbs.  While both the garlic and the onions take their own time and instructions to make, I recommend making the full batches outlined below and saving any extras for future creations.

Panzanella, from The Sweet Basil Cookbook – [Printable Recipe]
(serves 4-6)

1 recipe balsamic vinaigrette

6 generous handfuls mixed greens
1 cup roasted garlic

2 (8 oz) balls fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
1 Tbs. marinated onions

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, wedged [I used cherry tomatoes]
2 roasted red peppers, sliced in 1/4 inch strips
1 c. kalamata olives, pitted
1 c. croutons

Fresh basil, chiffonade, for garnish
Fresh parsley, chiffonade, for garnish
Shaved cheese (such as Asiago or Parmesan) for garnish

Follow the instructions to prepare the balsamic vinaigrette. In a large bowl, toss the greens with one-half of the balsamic vinaigrette. Then, in a separate bowl, toss the remaining vinaigrette with the roasted garlic, mozzarella, marinated onions, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olives and croutons. Add this mixture to the mixed greens, tossing to combine.

Evenly distribute the dressed greens among serving plates, and then garnish with the basil, parsley, and cheese. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
In a mixing bowl, whisk together 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard and 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar. Once they are well combined, slowly whisk in 2/3 c. olive oil until it is incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted GarlicRoasted Garlic
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place 4 garlic bulbs [each bulb yields approximately 1/2 cup roasted garlic] with their tops trimmed off by 1/2 inch, cut-side-up, in a casserole dish just big enough to hold the bulbs comfortably. Cover the garlic with 4 cups olive oil, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and then roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the garlic to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oil, and then squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skin, reserving the oil for cooking.

Marinated onionsMarinated Onions
Combine 1 red onion, as thinly sliced as possible, 1 clove of garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.), 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. fresh basil chiffonade, 1 Tbs. fresh parsley chiffonade, kosher salt and pepper in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to an airtight container.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Arrange 1 pound bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, and then top with a few pinches of butter and a couple sprinkles of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the bread is brown and crispy, flipping periodically to avoid burning.panz-bread
If serving the croutons immediately, sprinkle them with a bit of grated parmesan cheese; if saving the croutons for later, transfer them to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.

Panzanella Salad

Magazine Review: “Saveur” and Roasted Cranberry Sauce

roasted cranberry sauceThis is the second installment of my series of Thanksgiving magazine reviews.  You can see my evaluative criteria here.  My second food magazine review is of SAVEUR — a publication I became aware of through the Orangette blog, where several great recipes from Saveur have been featured.

112 pages total : 37 pages of ads (33%)
32 Recipes
News-stand price: $5.00
Price per recipe: $0.16
# of ads pretending to be articles: only one, and it’s very hard to spot.  It has the heading “The Saveur Chef Series” and includes a recipe for cauliflower with pine nut and current bread crumbs.  But for the miniscule “Advertisement” written across the top of the page, I would not have known it was advertising anything.  Come to think of it, I still am not quite sure what it is an ad for, except perhaps Bill Telepan’s eponymous NYC restaurant.
Recipe Index? Two indexes are provided – one, at the beginning, lists the recipes by article; the second lists them by category.  Both are ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-em’ small.

Photos: Good, large pictures are scattered throughout the magazine, but are not labeled by recipe and are often separated by a page or two from the recipe they depict.  That’s fine for green beans with hazelnuts, but not so good when it comes to Kasespatzle.

Best Sections:
• The pantry – This section gives you resources to locate the esoteric ingredients used in some of the recipes.  Perfect for all of those “wait, where do I find Thai palm sugar?” moments.
• Source – a short feature story on a specific retailer or product.  This month it was Happy Girl Kitchen Co.’s pickled vegetables, including carrots, squash, and Italian beans – I am intrigued…
• In the Saveur Kitchen – “Discoveries and Techniques from our Favorite Room in the House”, including unusual uses of common ingredients and illustrated technique lessons.

Best Features:
• Within certain articles a little call-out box refers the reader to the web for more ways to use a specific ingredient or for similar or complementary recipes.
• This magazine’s content centers around articles on specific cuisines and their locales, always giving a list of “where to stay”, “where to eat” and “what to do” if you decide to follow in their footsteps.  This issue alone featured New Orleans, the Auvergne region of France, and Laos.
• Rather than always publishing in the traditional recipe format of serving size, ingredient list, then instructions, throughout the magazine you will find short blurbs called “Methods” which condense a recipe into a short prose paragraph – very much like your mom would relay Grandma’s Apple Pie to you over the phone.  The overall impression given is that you can adjust any of the methods to your own taste preference.

Thanksgiving at the Saveur house:
•Two separate sections deal with Thanksgiving – one about classic side dishes, and a second about how the holiday is celebrated in Louisiana.  Sweet Potato Casserole, Oyster Stuffing, Whipped Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root, Oyster stew, Leah Chase’s Roasted Turkey.  Ruling?  Very traditional.

Particularly Unappetizing:
• Traditional Mincemeat Pie (dried and fresh fruit plus rum and beef fat – shudder!!)
• Steamed Fish Mousse
• Pounti (Auvergne-style meatloaf with prunes)

I’m looking forward to cooking:
• *Roasted Cranberry Sauce
• Spinach and Artichoke Dip
• Brussel Sprouts Salad

In Summary, Saveur is a very interesting mixed bag.  The list of recipes, at least in this issue, ranged from a Chile con Queso dip made with Velveeta, canned Ro-Tel tomatoes and Corona beer, to Laap Moo (a Laotian minced pork salad) with chopped fresh galangal, toasted rice powder, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.  I recommend this magazine for the adventurous and ambitious chefs of this world – those who want to experience unique flavors from around the world or who want to teach themselves the authentic techniques of food preparation before the advent of the microwave or ready-made pie dough.

Make cranberry sauce*Roasted Cranberry Sauce, cited from Saveur No. 115

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Using a peeler, remove peel from one orange, taking off as little of the white pith as possible.  Cut peel into very thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long.  Squeeze juice from orange; strain and reserve 1 Tbs. of the juice.  In a bowl, combine peel, 1 lb. fresh or thawed cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 4 smashed green cardamom pods, 4 whole cloves, 2 sticks cinnamon, and 1 small stemmed and thinly sliced jalapeno. Toss and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Roast until cranberrries begin to burst and release their juices, 10-15 minutes.  Transfer cranberry mixture to a bowl; stir in reserved orange juice and 1 1/2 Tbs. of port.  Let sit for at least 1 hour so that hte flavors meld.  Remove and discard cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon before serving.  Makes 2 cups.

Plated cranberry sauceResults:  I don’t know about your feeling on this, but I found the prose-recipe method really frustrating.  I didn’t see that I needed a jalapeno until too late (so I left it out), and I had to keep rereading the whole recipe over and over to make sure that I only needed to save 1 Tbs. of the orange juice.  Though I know I’m supposed to follow these test recipes exactly, I used ground cardamom and ground cinnamon and omitted the jalapeno.  The results, however, were absolutely delicious.  The sauce was quite tart, which I liked, and the port gave it such a wonderful flavor without making it taste ‘alcoholic’ at all.  The texture was like a thick and chunky chutney, so if you like a more saucey version, this is not the recipe for you.  For me?  Yum yum yum!  This might become an annual feature of my holiday table!