Ahhhh, the dog days of summer and what better theme for this month’s Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club than having a “Beachcomber Picnic”! Currently, I’m lounging around in a cabin in the cool temps of the mountains with Mr. M. and P. (meat and potatoes). A short drive to a mountain lake, and not the ocean, is a wonderful way to escape the 100 degrees where we live (it’s 75 degrees up here!). Going to the beach is an extremely popular activity in the Carolina’s . . . insanely popular, in fact. So many people bee-line to the ocean, that we avoid the beach and the traffic that goes along with it from June through August! But the beachside recipes shared this month can be prepared for our very favorite time at the beach — and that’s October when the crowds are gone.
The Cooking Light blogging gang has once again prepared some mighty tasty dishes pulled from the archives of Cooking Light to pack up in our baskets and into the backs of our cars. Our host Valli, from More Than Burnt Toast (click to see all of the recipes) has done another fantastic job organizing everything! And the great thing about all of these recipes is how healthy and flavorful they are!
For me, a picnic dish needs to be super easy and portable. So I selected a recipe that gets better by the minute through the marinating of it’s ingredients. A salad of August-ripe, ruby-red, juicy tomatoes, onion, and basil provide the foundation for Panzanella Salad with Bacon, Tomato, and Basil. Even without the bread, this salad is a super winner in my salad book! The addition of bacon was new to me for panzanella, but I assume there are many panzanella creations that include pancetta (Italian bacon). This recipe also differs from traditional panzanella by the inclusion of lettuce as well. It’s a nice addition. It’s that type of recipe where you can add this or that and make it your own creation!
Panzanella Salad with Bacon, Tomato, and Basil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups coarsely chopped vine-ripe, red tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 (8-ounce) loaf day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups torn romaine lettuce
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir with a whisk.
In a medium mixing bowl, add tomato, onion, basil, and bacon; toss well. Set aside.
Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until toasted; cool.
Add bread and lettuce to tomato mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.
For this salad, I chose to present the salad in a ‘layered’ manner. The torn romaine lettuce leaves are under the tomato mixture. Then I placed a layer of bread cubes on top of the lettuce. The tomato-basil-garlic-vinaigrette mixture is placed on top of the bread cubes and the bacon is crumbled on top to finish the salad off.
This is quite delicious, light and healthy. And that’s a good thing, isn’t it?