Panzanella Salad

I failed rather badly at making bread. So I had a surplus of croutons. And while I could possibly quite happily live off bread pudding, conscience dictates that I have at least one vegetable in my kitchen. At some point. Enter panzanella salad.

Ingredients
Bread
3 heirloom tomatoes
2 bell peppers
a handful of kalamata olives
1/2 of a red onion
6 slices of bacon
2 tea spoon of dijon mustard
2 1/2 table spoon balsamic vinegar
4 table spoon olive oil
salt and pepper
ingredients

***

1. Cut the bread into cubes. Aim for about 4 cups by volume.
cubes

2. Spread on a baking tray and toast at 350F until well dry and starting to get toasted. Allow to cool.
toast

3. Slice the tomatoes into wedges, removing the hard stem. Put into a colander over a bowl with a pinch of salt. Allow the juices to drain for 15 minutes.
drain

4. While the tomatoes drain, cut the bell peppers into bite sizes, finely chop the olives and slice the red onion very thinly. Combine in a large bowl.
veggies

5. Cook the bacon until crispy and set aside to cool.
bacon

6. Transfert the tomatoes to the salad bowl.
tomatoes

7. Add the mustard, vinegar, and oil to the collected tomato juice. Grind plenty of black pepper into the bowl.
dressing1

8. Whisk to combine.
dressing2

9. Add the bread cubes to the salad bowl.
bread

10. Pour the dressing over the bowl and toss to combine.
pour

11. Chop the bacon and stir it in.
bacon2

12. Divide into plates and serve.
serve

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Pearl Couscous with Dried Fruits and Nuts

This makes for good lunches because it keeps for a while, a nice side dish, or an interesting offering in a potluck. Most importantly it’s easy and quick to get together.

Adapted from Foodiecrush.

Ingredients:
2 cups pearl couscous
1 cup dried apricot
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (roasted, unsalted)

For the dressing:
1 french shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
2 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tea spoon dijon mustard
2 tea spoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
ingredients

***

1. Combine the dressing ingredients.
dressing

2. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and set aside.
smooth-dressing

3. Cook the pearl couscous (like pasta) until done but it still has a bit of texture. Drain and coat with the dressing,
add-dressing

4. Cut the dried apricots into smaller pieces. Add the cranberries. I aim for roughly 1 1/2 cup of dried fruits total.
dried-fruits

5. Add the fruits to the couscous.
add-fruits

6. Add the pistachios and pumpkin seeds.
nuts

7. Mix well to combine and transfer to a serving bowl. This can be eaten cold or warm.
serve

French onion soup with beer

I had a bag full of onion and nothing to do this afternoon. I’ve also been having a craving for a good french onion soup. It was a perfect situation. Except for the cheese. I only had pre-grated Italian mix cheese. It worked but, really, you want emmental or gruy√®re for this.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb onions (about 7)
4 table spoon butter
1 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
3 french shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 bottle of dark beer
1 liter of beef broth
1/2 tea spoon dried thyme
1-2 bay leaf
baguette, cut into croutons
cheese, to taste
salt and pepper

ingredients

***

1. Peel and half all your onions.
onion1

2. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Thinly slice the onions and throw into the pot. Stir to coat with the butter and add a generous pinch of salt.
onion2

3. Cook on medium low-heat for as long as they need to start getting some golden color. If it starts looking dry, add a bit of water and scrape the sugars from the bottom of the pot to recoat the onions.
onion3

4. When they are near the color your want (this was after a bit more than 1 hour) add the white balsamic vinegar.
onion4

5. Keep an eye on them, the extra sugar will finish caramelizing the onions very fast.
onion5

6. Add the diced shallots and the minced garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant.
aromates

7. Pour in the beer and make sure to scrape up all the sugary fond at the bottom of the pot.
beer

8. Add the beef broth. Simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
broth

9. When the soup is nearly ready slice the bread into croutons.
bread1

10. Put in the oven under the broiler to toast.
bread22

11. Ladle the soup into heat resistant bowl. Add toasted croutons and cover with cheese, to taste.
cheese1

12. Put in oven under broiler until cheese is melted and started to turn golden. Serve immediately.
cheese2