Panzanella Salad

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of salads, but I am all about some bread.  So, give me a bread salad and I’m pretty happy.  Of course, ‘bread salad’ sounds boring, so we’ll call it by it’s Italian name….Panzanella Salad.  That makes it sound all fancy….except I white-trashed it up by adding bacon bits. (so now it’s sorta a BLT-nella salad, but let’s not get technical.)

As you can see, I went a little heavy on the bread! I also added spinach and arugula. (ok, AND bacon)  What can I say? I’m not Italian.

Panzanella Salad (or BLT salad)

loosely adapted from A Foodie Affair
  • 4 cups stale (1 to 3 day-old bread) Italian-style bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes*
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced  I used cherry tomatoes and cut them in half
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 whole roasted red peppers in the jar I omitted b/c I forgot to pick some up at the store
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow peppers I used green pepper since that is what I had on hand
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted  I omitted b/c I hate olives
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  I used Asiago since that is what I had
  • Peppered bacon bits (optional)
  • Spinach & Arugula (optional)
*I bought my bread from the clearance bakery items at Wal-Mart & I think my cubes were closer to 1″ than 1/2!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer; drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to lightly coat cubes. Dry in oven approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Make dressing with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar. I used an envelope of Good Seasons salad dressing based on A Foodie Affair‘s recommendation.
  3. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green peppers, basil, coarse salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently to coat; let stand for at least a half-hour.
  4. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving and bring the salad to room temperature. Before serving, add bread cubes and sprinkle with Asiago cheese and bacon if using! Add salad dressing and serve on a bed of spinach and arugula if desired.

The salad was delish, whatever name you want to give my version!

And let’s not forget…today is SEPTEMBER 11th.  I don’t care how long it has been…the very thought of what happened on 9/11 sends chills down my arms, gives me a heavy heart, and makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time.  I did not know anyone who lost their life during the attacks of 9/11, but I mourn for them. I remember them. And I cherish their memories and give thanks to all the heroes of that day.
I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
MAY GOD BLESS THE USA!
 

I’m linking up today with Naptime Creations, Mandy’s Recipe Box, It’s a Blog Party, All the Small Stuff, 33 Shades of Green, Blessed with Grace
 

Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread

Ohhhh YES! Chocolate + Bourbon + Bread = one divine combination.  Joy the Baker is a smart woman!  The other day I had a few bananas that needed to get used up, (or frozen to make banana ice cream.)  I, however, remembered I had pinned this fabulous banana bread recipe and I had some bourbon.  (Thanks to my brother, who always gives me liquor for my bday since I refuse to go to the liquor store. Mainly b/c I am always dragging 1 to 3+ children around. BTW bro…bday coming up soon! *hint hint*) Which reminds me…OH MY LORDY, I’LL BE FORTY!!! Holy cow. But that is a different post altogether.

Back to the bread…it was amazing.

Chocolate Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread 

adapted from Completely Delicious (from Joy the Baker cookbook)
**my changes are in italics**
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp *I used 1/4 cup Smart Balance Butter & 1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar *I used 1/2 cup sugar & 1/2 cup Stevia
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed (about 3 medium bananas) *I didn’t have quite enough banana, so I added enough applesauce to equal 1 1/2 cups
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli – roughly chopped since they are large chips)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. *I made 4 mini loaves.
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the mashed banana, lemon juice, and bourbon and mix until just combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  • Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread to distribute it evenly. 
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. *I think the mini loaves took about 30 minutes. We polished off 2 loaves pretty quickly, then I put 2 in the freezer…portion control!
Verdict – Delicious!  It had a nice crusty outside, and was very moist on the inside – loaded with chocolate, mild banana, and a hint of bourbon!  So.good.