29 August 2015
I've been wanting to make bagel panzanella for several months. Now that the best summer tomatoes are here, it is time. Oh man, is it time.
You almost certainly know my love of bagels. Bagels are wonderful. Bagels are delicious. Bagels are the best breakfast on a holiday morning. You can put anything on a bagel. And while I usually discuss my love of bagels through a series of various cream cheese schmears, I thought it was time to mix it up in a more bready way, so I could shoehorn even more bagels into my diet. What recipe combines a delicious bread product and many tasty vegetables? Panzanella. And so bagel panzanella was born.
Probably the most important component of panzanella is the bread. It's supposed to be dry, so it can soak up all the vegetable juices and vinaigrette readily, yet not turn into a pile of soggy mush. So preparing the bread is critical. It also needs to be done a good 12 hours in advance, unless your bagel is already quite stale. You can get away with toasting your bread pieces gently in a low oven, but the texture is going to be a little different.
I chose an everything bagel, for optimal all-bagel flavor content. Cherry tomatoes came out of the garden; cucumber, red onion, and basil came from the CSA box. Actually, the basil could have come out of the garden too, since there's plenty of it out there. But it didn't.
To make this even more substantial (and bagely), you could serve big scoops of it over some tangy salad greens -- arugula would be my pick -- and scatter some chunks of cream cheese or goat cheese rolled in sesame and poppy seeds over the top to serve. For that matter, if you wanted to take the whole thing in a sweeter direction, you could go for a blueberry bagel, an assortment of halved berries, and fresh mint, give it a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve it all over a bed of spinach, with optional goat cheese. Panzanella!
1 savory bagel to make 2-3 cups cubed bread
2 cups chopped tomato (14 cherry tomatoes in my case)
1 1/2 cups chopped cucumber
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 bunch or up to 1 cup chiffonaded fresh basil
1/4 cup or more red wine vinaigrette
Cut your bagel into bite-sized pieces. I'd recommend going a bit on the small side, to create optimal bites with cucumber and tomato later.
Put your bagel pieces on a rack and let them dry out overnight. If your bagel is already a day old (mine was fresh from the bagel shop), I'd guess you only need 4-6 hours.
The next day, it's time to make your salad. Chop up your tomato and cucumber into bite-sized pieces; thinly sliver your red onion; chiffonade your basil. Combine your bagel pieces, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil, and vinaigrette. Mix everything together well. Let sit on the counter (no tomatoes in the fridge) for at least a half hour, and up to four hours.
Taste, correct seasoning, and serve with the delights of your choice.
Red wine vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
12 good grinds of pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Put all the ingredients into a small jar. Lid the jar and shake well to emulsify. Voila! Red wine vinaigrette.
You'll have some vinaigrette left over, so put the jar into the fridge and use it on any salads you may be eating in the next week or so. Let the dressing come to room temperature before using.
It's so dramatic-looking with the black cherry tomatoes.
We had our bagel panzanella with slices of Spanish tortilla, but it would be pretty happy alongside a whole lot of different main dishes. Eat it for breakfast, with some scrambled eggs. Eat it for lunch, with a cup of Tuscan white bean soup. Eat it for dinner, with a burger of your choice, or maybe a seared steak if that's how you roll.
How are you eating your bagels lately?