Pea and Bacon Panzanella with Warm Vinaigrette

By • June 18, 2014 • 6 Comments

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Author Notes: The strawberries and peaches might be screaming out for you, but it’s okay to make a lunch entirely from the freezer. Make it throughout the summer. Make it when it's not too hot to turn on your oven. Make it when you need a bowl of comfort. Make some for me.

You will have extra vinaigrette for your next salad. This is a good thing.
Phyllis Grant

Makes a large lunch for 1

  • 4 slices stale white bread, yielding about 2 cups bread cubes
  • Large pinch kosher salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and diced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 large clove garlic, diced or grated or pressed (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon creamy Grey Poupon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/16 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 sprigs mint
  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. If the bread is fresh and hard to cut, toast it for a few minutes to crisp it up. Place cubes on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and olive oil. Toss with your hands. Toast in the oven until they’re crisp all the way through, about 15 minutes. Taste one to know for sure. They can brown a bit but turn the heat down if they start to burn. Take bread cubes out of the oven and set them aside.
  3. Cook the bacon on medium heat in a medium-sized cast iron pan. When it’s crisped up to your liking, remove bacon and place on a paper towel. Pour out all but 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat (basically leaving behind only an oil slick).
  4. To make the vinaigrette, place the pan back on low heat (the pan will still be super hot). Toss in shallots. Stir for one minute, scraping up the bacon goodies. Add garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Pour in vinegar. Turn up to medium heat and boil for 20 seconds.
  5. Take off the heat and pour mixture into or jar that will hold up to 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Whisk in mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Set aside.
  6. Place cast iron pan back on medium heat. Add butter. Let it melt and froth up and then settle back down. The moment it starts to smell nutty, toss in the frozen peas and the salt. Cook until the peas are just cooked through. This takes 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t overcook them or they will get soggy. They should still pop open when you put one in your mouth. Test one.
  7. Turn off the heat. Toss in the bread cubes. Add about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Stir and let the bread cubes soak up the liquid. Add another 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir again. Add more vinaigrette or salt if necessary. You want the vinaigrette to permeate the bread cubes but they shouldn't be soggy.
  8. Garnish with torn bacon and mint. Eat right away.
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Tags: bread salad, mint, peas, spring salad, stale bread

Comments (6) Questions (0)

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3 months ago Girl in a Food Frenzy

Love a pantry meal and peas are one of my absolute staples :) Those streaky layers of bacon make this, oh so magical!

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3 months ago Sandi

FYI - dried peas are excellent, too! Easy to store in the pantry & fast to rehydrate. (I get Auguson Farms)

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3 months ago nicole

Yum- I am going to have to try this soon! I have fresh peas in the garden- would you take the cooking time down to 1 minute?

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3 months ago Phyllis Grant

fresh peas! wow. yum. definitely test after a minute.

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3 months ago Allyn

I've been dreaming about tomatoes for panzanella for months... but this looks so good! It might tide me over until tomato season.
Also, frozen peas are so underrated.

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3 months ago Phyllis Grant

I agree. frozen peas are genius.