Two firsts for me this week, first I joined the bakers over at TWD, then because I love to cook and Ina Garden (the Barefoot Contessa) has some really delicious recipes I thought why not join in that fun too!! So this is my first Barefoot Blog Post!

Maybe some day I will graduate to a Daring Baker . .. but right now I don’t think I am that daring!!

This week’s recipe was chosen by Melissa of It’s Melissa’s Kitchen. Now I must confess, I am no stranger to the wonders of wonders that is Panzanella. I have made many different versions of this traditional italian salad and I think I have loved each and every one of them. It is basically a salad with giant croutons and no lettuce .. . HELLO . .. that is a pretty perfect combination!

My only issue with making Ina’s recipe is the toasting method and my bread choice. This is a very busy week for me, my boy has a friend over this week so they can attend a morning Lacrosse camp together. So my week has consisted of cooking, cleaning and entertaining two 13 year old boys! The dishes and food alone are a full time job (boy can they eat!). Plus it has been insanely busy at work . . . well that is nothing terribly new, but it has been even busier than normal!!

Anyways, back to bread choice! I knew I would not have time to stop mid-week for fresh bread, so I picked up some parbaked small baguettes at the store this weekend (Beckman’s brand for you fellow Californians). They are fabulous for getting that fresh baked bread thing going on in your house mid-week. Admittedly, I should have baked them off the night before . . . but again 13 year old boys, crazy work. . . it didn’t happen! So I ended up baking them off, letting them cool (mostly) and then trying to toast them in the olive oil. Now they were very tasty, but in terms of holding up to the dressing, I knew it was going to be soggy very quickly. So far my favorite version for making the croutons has been oiling the bread, then pressing them down while they toast on my grill pan, then rubbing them with the split garlic clove before cutting into bite size pieces. This made them quick, flavorful and super crunchy.

Other than my own bread problems, the salad was very tasty! I had never in my previous versions of Panzanella added capers (I usually do nicoise or kalamata olives), but the capers gave a different briny taste that complimented it well. The only other thing that I have added to other versions is either chopped fresh or the mini fresh mozzarella balls. They give a nice mellow creamy bite to the salad, and I think in the Barefoot version, would have balanced out the capers nicely.

Now for those of you out there who have never made or ate Panzanella . . . stop what you are doing and get chopping, whisking and toasting!! You will be glad you did!!! Oh and her is the link to the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/panzanella-recipe/index.html

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