Sunday, April 8, 2012

Strawberry Panzanella - fruity goodness all over.

Hey all,
So I have a lot of catching up to do with the blog. I've made quite a few things but I didn't get a chance to write about each one until....

.... I fell sick. Yes, I hate falling sick. This morning, I got up feeling horrible with a sore throat and a runny nose. Ugh! Don't you just hate that feeling?

Great (I roll my eyes...) - what a time to fall sick - just when the weather was warming up and gorgeous outside and I had planned many fun activities this weekend. Instead, I'm stuck at home trying to recover. But, what means is that I can turn my attention to this blog. I love writing about food and this gives me comfort in these tough times (yeesh, here he goes again with the dramatic flair).

One of the dishes I made recently was a twist on a savory panzanella - usually made with tomatoes, cheese, herbs, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Well, it turns out that you can also make a dessert out of it. I came across a recipe in 101 cookbooks and I think Heidi just hit the bullseye. I just cut back a little on the sugar but that's kind of it.

Who knew that you could make a fruit-based bread salad? I certainly didn't until I tried it.
I made the Strawberry Panzanella and it is surprisingly very simple. So simple that anyone who can cut bread and chop strawberries will be able to make it. The hardest part was to actually let it sit for sometime to let the flavors meld. Trust me, that is the HARDEST part.

Basically it involves three steps:

1. Cut bread (a good bread that toasts well) into cubes and coat it with olive oil and brown sugar (it's the "dessert counterpart" of salt and pepper for the savory version) - Bake it at 350 F till the bread cubes are golden brown and caramelized from the sugar.

Cut the bread into cubes/chunks and coat with olive oil.

Coat the cubes with brown sugar. Now I like where this is going....

2. Chop strawberries into smaller pieces and mash them together along with some brown sugar to help them release their juices. Let the berries macerate in the sugar to release their juices - to be absorbed by the bread.

Cut strawberries into pieces and mix with brown sugar - they looked so beautiful that I had to use this as the main picture for the post.

It's a shame I had to mash it all up.

3. Add bread cubes to the strawberry mash and mix together. Let it sit. That's it. Top with some non-fat greek yogurt mixed with honey if you like.

Toasted caramelized bread cubes - yum!

Mix the mashed strawberries with bread cubes and voila!

How much more simpler can it get? Not much more, because it was so easy to begin with and it was quick - I think it took less than 10 minutes to prep and about 15-20 minutes to bake the cubes and combine it with the mash.

How much more delicious can it get? The longer it sits, the better it gets - it will be a testament to your patience. Your patience will be rewarded, I promise.

You could try this recipe with other fruits as well - maybe a mixture of blackberries, raspberries, strawberries? How can you go wrong? You can't.


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