I have been running a lot lately, training for the half marathon in August that I somehow talked myself into doing….or was brainwashed into doing it [eh hem, you know who you are]. With that said, I have been a hungry hungry hippo these days.
Here is how we came upon this idea of Pesto Panzanella.
Lauren and I were both craving pesto. But didn’t want pasta. But still wanted pesto, for sure. So we thought pesto pizza is always good. Then we thought, wait a minute… Panzanella! Boom. A miracle was born.
Oh and don’t fret, if your heart just skipped a beat at the sound of “pesto pizza”, we will be making that soon with the left over pesto. Two birds with one stone? I think so.
The crispy garlic baked cubes of bread both add great texture to this dish and help to soak up the flavor of the pesto. It’s like a deconstructed panini, and who doesn’t love a panini?? (except for this man with whom we serve the homeless. Absolutely shocked when we heard this.)
If you have gotten used to the boring lettuce salad, and don’t mind a few extra carbs, this recipe should be next up to bat! Also, it will feed an army. Especially if you add some some everything-seasoned grilled chicken on the side, for extra protein. Not to mention it’s great with the pesto.
Toss cubes of bread with olive oil and garlic, and lay out on a baking sheet to bake for about 15 minutes. Lay out to cool for a bit before tossing in the salad.
Meanwhile, chop, slice, and dice the veggies, cheese and prosciutto.
Make the pesto. Nom nom nom. So tasty, it’s almost sinful.
Once the bread has somewhat cooled, toss in a big bowl with all the goodies and that zesty homemade pesto. (here is another great pesto recipe, that would be just delightful on this salad)
Tuscan Pesto Panzanella Salad
1 loaf TJ’s flaxseed ciabatta bread (about 1 lb.)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, thinly sliced with a peeler
3 green onions, chopped
2 cups cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 oz.) can of artichoke hearts (in water), drained and quartered
1 cup of roasted red peppers, (you can roast and peel your own, or buy them jarred, like we did)
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
4 slices of prosciutto, diced or torn
1/4 cup pesto (see recipe below) salt and pepper, to taste
Basil, chiffonade (leaves rolled and cut in thin strips) for garnish
*Little Yellow Note: it’s really simple to sub in any ingredients if your palate preferred others. We won’t be offended
Makes about 1 cup of pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves (approx. 2 oz/1 bunch)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Cut the ciabatta bread into cubes, leaving the crust on. In a large bowl, mix it with the 1/4 cup olive oil and minced garlic, until fully covered. Evenly, lay the bread cubes out on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, stirring on occasion. Set aside to cool.
Make the pesto: in a food processor (or a good blender, I suppose) combine all of the ingredients and blend, streaming in the olive oil, until the consistency is moist, and all the olive oil is incorporated.
Sauté green onions in a teaspoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes, to make them tender and flavorful. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bread cubes, roasted red peppers, sautéed green onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, and parmesan shavings. Mix in the pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh basil.
From the Little Yellow Kitchen,