Meatless Monday: Smoked Panzanella

By: Mallory Stuchin

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of lifeEating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Sure this salad uses peak produce — cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, snap peas — but it’s the day-old bread that really gets top billing. Traditional recipes for this classic Tuscan dish call for soaking bread (in water or another liquid) before tossing it with other salad ingredients. Kelsey adds extra crunch and flavor to her dish by baking her cubed bread in the oven before combining it with the other ingredients. Smoked mozzarella lends just enough heft to this otherwise light meal — its rich taste subbing in for (completely unmissed) bacon. Best of all, this easy recipe can be made in minutes, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is grabbing a fork and digging in.

1 loaf French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
1/2 cup olive oil
8 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/3-inch dice
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and sliced into thirds on the bias
8 ounces cherry heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the cubed bread with enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat liberally, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the bread cubes in an even layer on one side of a large baking sheet. In the same mixing bowl, toss the diced peppers with some extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on the other side of the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the oven to bake until the bread is crispy and golden brown and the peppers have softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on it so the bread doesn't burn!

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Once the bread is toasted, combine the bread and peppers with the smoked mozzarella, snap peas and tomatoes (you can use the same bowl you tossed the bread and peppers in). Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and add the torn basil leaves. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

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