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Monday, June 25, 2012

Wind Up to July Fourth

There's something funny about July Fourth.  For some reason, even though it's technically at the beginning of the summer, I always feel like once it's passed, the summer is half over.  Of course, this isn't at all the case, but it feels that way to me.  Just saying.

The Fourth of July the quintessential summer holiday.  Everything about it just screams summer.  SUMMER!

But the Fourth does require planning.  That's why, this week, I'm going to post a couple of fireworks worthy recipes, guaranteed to generate the same kind of excitement sparklers do.

This recipe for Green panzanella salad is a real crowd pleaser.  You can make it in advance because the longer it sits, the tastier it becomes.  This recipe also makes enough salad to serve a small army, which is a plus on a holiday like the Fourth of July.

Recipe:  Greek Panzanella Salad
(Ina Garten, 2009))


Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
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.

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.

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