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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Celebrate Summer with Panzanella

We aren't huge fans of most of the Food Network's shows, because even when the food looks good, it tends to contain horrific levels of fat. But we have a soft spot for Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, whose recipes combine elegance and flavor, and who has a good personality to boot. After our beloved Nigella, she's the only television cook we'd like to spend a long train ride with.

Over the weekend, we caught an old episode in which she made panzanella, an Italian bread salad that combines a sharp dressing with croutons and crunchy vegetables. In her TV version Ina Greeked up the salad with feta and oregano, but we tried her online recipe, which relied on basil and capers for Italian flavor.

Man, was this good. One problem we have with bread salads is that they get way too mushy after they sit for a while, but Ina's recipe relies in large part on red and yellow peppers, which hold their water, so to speak. Even after two days, the salad is still highly edible.

Combined with a cool Chardonnay and a hot patio, it made a great summer dinner.

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