Ina Garten is acquiring somewhat of a reputation for panzanella recipes.  Rest assured, a good one.  I mean, she’s got the original Panzanella from Parties!, a grilled version that I watched her make recently that looks like it’s right up my alley, and this Greek version.  Oh this Greek version.  The one I’m still dreaming about.

Admittedly, I’ve become obsessed with feta cheese in the past few months and I’ve been enjoying it in everything from salads, to roasted veggies, to pizza toppings.  So Ina’s Greek version of panzanella seemed natural exciting mouthwatering to me while I was working out the second Barefoot Bloggers recipe for this month.  And as usual, Ina didn’t let me down.  The panzanella base is the same as the original version but the addition of feta and a delightfully tangy vinaigrette are what really make this dish.  And the toasted bread.  Good lord, don’t forget about the toasted bread!  It took all my strength to hold myself to just one serving of this but the good thing is, it’s so easy to make that it will be reappearing on my menu soon enough.

And now for the surprise announcement!

Ina Garten’s cookbook publicist contacted me earlier this month to tell me that Ina would like for me to do a Q&A session with her in preparation of the release of her new cookbook Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? which is set to be released on October 26th. How COOL is that?!? My cooking idol!  The date is set for August 18th (which is an awesome early birthday gift for me since my bday is the 19th!) but I don’t have any more details right now other than the date. I of course, will share them once they are finalized.

In the time leading up to this special event, I want to hear from you.  I want to know what you’d ask Ina if you had the chance.  But hold your questions for now.  I’ll be posting weekly starting next week with new recipes from How Easy is That? (since I’ve got an advanced copy in my hot little hands) to share with you and will ask you for your questions in those posts.

So, to make sure you don’t miss these upcoming posts, you may want to connect with me via the new buttons I’ve added in the sidebar: Twitter, Smells Like Home’s Facebook page, and RSS feedJust sayin’

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Greek Panzanella
source: adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients:
For the Salad:
  • Extra virgin 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 kalamata olives, pitted

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar (I used 2 tbsp each of champagne and pomegranate vinegars)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. 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.
  2. Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
  3. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar(s), 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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