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Panzanella Salad - Guilt-free Party Dish

>> 7/16/10

Panzanella is an Italian 'bread salad.'  When everyone at the party is loading up on liquored cocktails and bbq'd meats with lacquered sweet sauces, this brilliant salad is a welcome dish to take away some of the guilt.   It's easy to prepare, holds up on the buffet line, and provides great leftovers.  I made this for Fourth of July and ate versions of it for two days.  It was even better after the vegetables and bread had time to soak up the dressing. 

Panzanella Salad (adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties)
Red Onion
Red Pepper
Yellow Pepper
3 T capers
1/2 c Basil chopped
s&p to taste
Italian bread or french baquette
olive oil
Chop vegetables into 1" chunks and combine.  Mix in capers, basil.  Add seasonings and adjust to taste.
Slice bread into 1" cubes.  I cut up about three cups total, but others prefer more bread to make it a true bread salad.  You will be making fresh croutons. Ina suggests heating olive oil and some salt in a pan and then toasting the cubes.  I like grilling the bread with a light brush of olive oil.  
1 t garlic - minced
1/2 t dijon mustard
3 T light vinegar (white wine, champagne, etc.)
1/2 c olive oil
s&p to taste

Combine the first three ingredients.  While whisking, add in the olive oil in steady stream to incorporate it into the vinegar mixture.  Add s&p to taste.
Pour vinaigrette over salad.  Add bread in about 1/2 hour before serving and toss well.

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Gives any well-intentioned cook, completely possible ways to get more real, fresh food onto the table without being shackled to a recipe or breaking the bank or getting an uprising from finicky eaters.
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