Pea and Bacon Panzanella with Warm Vinaigrette

June 18, 2014

When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.

Today: A satisfying lunch for one that you'll want to eat with your fingers, straight out of the pan.  

Pea Panzanella from Food52

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Start your weekly freezer excavation. 

Find pastries from 2013. Let the oven transform them into something gooey and brand new for your kids. Sigh with nostalgia as Pandora spits out “Sweet Jane” by the Cowboy Junkies. Google when this song came out.

No way that’s crazy. It came out the year I graduated from high school. 

What, mom?

Nothing, my love.

Reaffirm your goal not to be that mom who complains about being so fucking old.

When is daddy coming home for good?


Wish you didn’t have to let this information land.

Go back to the freezer. The homebase. Search for your kind of comfort. Something involving peas, bacon, carbs.

Find frozen peas. 

Pea Panzanella from Food52

Hold your breath, hold your tongue, and watch Mr. Perpetual Accident Waiting to Happen stand up on his chair -- water glass stacked on top of napkin on top of fork on top of pastry scraps -- and jump to the floor. High five his success as he safely reaches the dishwasher and abstractly inserts the dishes.

Hand over a glass of kefir to protein him up.

Google peas and start gathering some parenting arsenal: Dash, did you know that peas are a fruit? 


Think about it. Is there any kind of fruit you don’t like?

Well, yes. Now there is. PEAS!!! 

Come on, dude. Open your mind.

No way, mom. Parenting. Fail.

Send him to Legoland. 

Scratch at your chest. Wish you could remove your heart, set it in a dish for the summer, and not feel it ache anymore.

Find a frozen braid of bacon and a bag of croutons underneath five pounds of pizza. Know you are close.

Re-toast the frozen bread. Dress the peas in brown butter. Seal it all together with a shallot garlic vinegar potion. Eat half the bacon. Crumble the rest on top.

Look down at your panzanella. Feel incomplete. Ask yourself: What would Nigella Lawson do?

She would put on a bra. She would throw some mint on top of the panzanella. She would eat it by herself, with her fingers, right out of the pan. 

Channel Nigella. 

Pea Panzanella from Food52

Pea and Bacon Panzanella with Warm Vinaigrette

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 

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Phyllis Grant

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amy
  • Brandi
  • Naz Deravian
    Naz Deravian
  • Ahr Mon
    Ahr Mon
  • Phyllis Grant
    Phyllis Grant
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.


Amy June 21, 2014
I'm with you, Phyllis. Cowboy Junkies is the sweetest Jane. Peas are a fruit?! I love them in a salmon salad.
Brandi June 19, 2014
You're listening to Cowboy Junkies, cooking free-style panzanella, eating with your fingers,... putting on a bra seems counter-intuitive to me. It's summer, mama, no worries.
Phyllis G. June 25, 2014
yaya for free-style everything!
Naz D. June 18, 2014
Ahh, Phyllis I sighed right with you at the mention of "Sweet Jane" by The Cowboy Junkies. As a Canuck and a Lou Reed fan there is no denying the haunting beauty of The Cowboy Junkies version. Now excuse me as I go begin the freezer excavation. May I be fortunate enough to piece together a panzanella as gorgeous as this.
Ahr M. June 18, 2014
'“Sweet Jane” by The Cowboy Junkies"'

Lou Reed just rolled over in his grave. C'mon man...have some taste!
Kenzi W. June 18, 2014
I listen to Lou Reed all day while I work, and I'm so down with this rendition. And more importantly, this pea salad.
Phyllis G. June 18, 2014
it's funny. i knew someone would call me on that. but in my mind it has always been a cowboy junkies song. even though i know it's not. i love all versions. but point taken!