Our other July Barefoot Blogger recipe is for a Greek Panzanella salad. In all honesty, I was not very excited about trying this recipe. I have had Panzanella salads before, and I am always disappointed by soggy croutons and vegetables that usually show up in the bowl.
This salad came together remarkably quick. I baked the croutons on a baking sheet in the oven. While they were cooking, I threw together the dressing (which I just mixed together in an old jar). While the croutons were cooling, I prepared the salad. I think this is an impressive looking salad for 20 minutes of work!
The salad was a hit, with everyone requesting second portions. The croutons were perfect, the vegetables were crunchy and the dressing was loaded with flavor. This salad can be prepared ahead of time, but plan on dressing the salad 30 minutes before serving to allow the dressing to fully incorporate into the vegetables, feta and croutons.
Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted
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. (I baked the croutons on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes)
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.