Weekly Winner – Back in Balance…with bread!

My gluttonous moment has passed and I have put away all my gooey cheese, pasta, and pork products (temporarily, of course –everything in balance).  I am back to embracing salads and my favorite type of salad is one that includes bread.  I don’t care if its croutons or a roll on the side — I’m in.  My all-time favorite, however, is a panzanella salad.  What is better than crunchy bread brought back to life with a little dressing?  OK, yes, bacon… but we’re being virtuous this week, so work with me!!

There were a couple of things that caught my interest with this recipe for Chickpea Panzanella which I found in Cooking Light magazine.  First of course, was the chickpeas.  I adore chickpeas.  The other was the fact that this salad had artichoke hearts.  I cannot say I love artichoke hearts.  I didn’t think I hated them either.  Truth be told, with the exception of spinach artichoke dip, I just haven’t had much exposure to them.  I thought this would be an excellent time to try them out.  Everything else in this salad I know I adored so perhaps this would be the vehicle to win me over.  The salad was excellent.  The artichoke hearts?  Meh.  I can honestly say I would like the salad more without them.  Maybe next time I’ll swap them out for cucumbers or roasted peppers.  My husband can have his dislike for watercress, I apparently dislike artichoke hearts.

Chickpea Panzanella

Serves 5 – (seriously, that’s what they say!)

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) ciabatta loaf

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 (8.5-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove and discard crust from ciabatta; cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until toasted and golden.

Combine toasted bread, tomatoes, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, feta, onion, and basil in a large bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl, combine oil, vinegar, oregano, pepper, and salt. Stir with a whisk. Pour over salad; toss to combine. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

Advertisements

Weekly Winner – The Only Time Soggy Bread is a Good Thing

IMG_1480.JPGLet’s be clear: In general, I am not a fan of soggy, sodden bread. I’m much more of a chewy-crusty-bread kind of gal. There is one exception however, and that is with this soup. Its name is a bit of a misnomer I think. Garlic Bread Soup to me, evokes the cheesy, crispy garlic bread that adorns a big plate of spaghetti. This is not that. What it is, however is comforting beyond belief. It is basically a garlicky, eggy broth with big chunks of sodden, gooey bread. I mean that in a good way, really! And it certainly is not an attractive dish. Looking at the picture now it looks like a bowl of flaccid chicken. Oh, forget it! There is no describing this soup in a way that will do it justice. Just make it and see for yourself!

One note on the recipe, which by the way comes from Martha Stewart Living, is that it says it makes 5 cups which serves 4. Uh, no. It does indeed make 5 cups but that only manages to serve me and my husband once for lunch. Double it — you’ll be glad you did.

Garlic Bread Soup
Makes 5 cups

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups bite-size pieces stale crusty bread
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
Flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Procedure:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic paste; cook, stirring occasionally until very fragrant but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add bread, and stir to coat. Stir in stock and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Discard bay leaf. Stir in eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up eggs, about 10 minutes. Serve soup garnished with parsley leaves.