Cast Iron

Pea and Bacon Panzanella with Warm Vinaigrette

June 18, 2014
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes a large lunch for 1
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

What You'll Need
  • 4 slices stale white bread, yielding about 2 cups bread cubes
  • 1 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tory Nettleton
    Tory Nettleton
  • Girl in a Food Frenzy
    Girl in a Food Frenzy
  • Allyn
  • 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.

7 Reviews

Tory N. February 16, 2015
loved this one!!
Girl I. June 30, 2014
Love a pantry meal and peas are one of my absolute staples :) Those streaky layers of bacon make this, oh so magical!
Sandi June 26, 2014
FYI - dried peas are excellent, too! Easy to store in the pantry & fast to rehydrate. (I get Auguson Farms)
nicole June 20, 2014
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?
Phyllis G. June 20, 2014
fresh peas! wow. yum. definitely test after a minute.
Allyn June 18, 2014
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.
Phyllis G. June 20, 2014
I agree. frozen peas are genius.