Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mix and Match Bread Salad

You know me: if I am going to tell you that I like a salad, chances are it's more than just lettuce and tomatoes.  I am really not a fan of regular salads (I think because I am not the biggest fan of lettuce itself).  However, this recipe, which was in my July/August edition of Food Network Magazine, intrigued me.  First of all, it has bread in it.  That immediately makes anything better in my book.

Second, it wasn't a recipe so much as a Choose Your Own Adventure story.  Remember those books? They left the character's choices up to you, and you'd flip to a certain page in the book once you made your choice?  Those were fun.  This is similarly fun.  There are only 5 steps, but 3 out of the 5 are options for you to choose what you like!  You get to choose the type of bread, your mix-ins, and your protein.  The only standards are the base and the dressing.  So basically every time you make this salad, it could be totally different.

I made it one day that we were having Mark's parents over for dinner.  Everyone liked it, but Mark really did.  In fact, I am pretty sure he finished it for breakfast one morning, which is very weird but whatever, at least he liked it!  Similar to yesterday's salad, I think this one is best eaten right away when the bread cubes are still crunchy, but hey, Mark would vouch for it for breakfast the next day :)

In case you're curious our choices were ciabatta for the bread, and our mix-ins were olives, artichoke hearts and arugula.  Our protein was white beans :)  What choices are you going to try for this mix and match salad?


mix and match bread salad
from July/August edition of Food Network Magazine, 2014

1) Choose a bread:

  • sourdough
  • Italian
  • ciabatta
  • baguette
  • focaccia
  • olive bread
  • pocketless pita
Cut your choice of bread into 1-inch cubes to make 8 cups.  Stale bread works best; if yours is fresh, spread the cubes on baking sheets and toast in a 400-degree oven, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.

2) Make the base.
Cut 2 pounds tomatoes into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups).  Toss with the bread.  Add up to 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, mint, and/or chives).

3) Add your mix-ins:
Prepare 1 cup each; choose up to 3.  Add to the bowl.

  • bell peppers, diced
  • oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped (up to 1/2 cup)
  • frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and halved
  • olives, pitted (up to 1/2 cup)
  • celery, sliced
  • baby greens (spinach, arugula, or kale)
  • hearts of palm, drained and sliced
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (up to 1/2 cup)
  • vidalia or red onion, thinly sliced
4) Pick a protein:
Add up to 1 cup total (optional):
  • canned tuna, drained and flaked
  • salami, cut into strips
  • steak, cooked and thinly sliced
  • rotisserie chicken, chopped
  • hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • bacon or pancetta, cooked and crumbled
  • cheese (feta, goat, cheddar or mozzarella), crumbled or diced
  • deli meat (ham, roast beef, or smoked turkey), chopped
  • canned chickpeas or white beans, rinsed
5) Dress the salad.
Whisk 1/4 cup red or white vinegar and 1 teaspoon dijon mustard in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest.  Drizzle over the salad and toss.  The salad can be made up to 4 hours ahead.

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