I’m always perplexed by people who profess to hate salad. I’m sure you know people like that, the ones who call any vegetable matter “rabbit food.” Personally, I think they’re nuts. Putting greenery in a salad bowl gives you leave to commit all matter of food-related sins. Take today’s Peach Panzanella salad for example. Sure, there’s some Boston lettuce in there and other “rabbity” items, but there’s also oil-riddled chunks of bread, balls of cheese, mortadella, and briny, briny olives. It’s basically a grocery store deli counter in a bowl and I STILL get to call it a “salad” and feel good about eating it. Salads are great! Haters have no idea what they’re missing.
But enough about the dietary delusions I inflict on myself, let’s talk about this Peach Panzanella. You may remember from my last post that I am mentally delaying the end of summer. Well, today’s recipe is the second installment in my ongoing campaign to cling to the past. I know, it’s a super healthy past time.
We are in the throes of peach season and, damn, is it a good time to be alive. I look forward to this time of year all winter long and, unlike most things in life, it never fails to live up to the hype. In my opinion, peaches are the closest nature ever got to creating candy. Honestly, I would choose a ripe peach over a Fuzzy Peach any day and it’s not like me to turn my back on gummies. Most of the time, I just tear into peaches like an animal but I restrained myself long enough to make a salad for you fine people.
I have to say, peaches do very well in a savory salad. As you may have noticed, I’m a big proponent of the whole salty/sweet flavor combo, so if it’s not your thing, you may not agree with me. But for those of you who wolf down your salted peanuts with a side of caramel corn, perk up your ears because this Peach Panzanella is sure to speak to your very soul. Okay, that may be overselling it, but I can promise you will like it.
Now, you may have noticed I have included a recipe for Rosemary Foccacia below. Think of it as an extra credit assignment. You can certainly purchase a loaf of focaccia wherever fine loaves are sold, but, if you’re feeling sassy, you can make your own. There’s no doubt the salad will be just as delicious with store-bought focaccia as it would with homemade. But, I will say this, making your own bread is super satisfying. I feel like such a capable human being when I pull a loaf of bread from the oven. It makes me feel like I could own pioneer times, which I couldn’t, but it’s nice to fleetingly feel like I could. This is what I want for you.
What I really like about this Peach Panzanella is how versatile it is. The rest of the ingredients can be easily replaced with something more to your liking. In fact, the salad could easily be made vegetarian or vegan! Seriously, just tell the mortadella and bocconcini to take a hike. The vinaigrette can be made ahead and stored in a jar in the fridge until go time. Heck, make an extra large batch and enjoy homemade dressing all week long. Literally, this salad is a back-to-school dream boat. It comes together in a snap, you can make it to your family’s specifications, and it still tastes like summer. It’s really ideal for any family shell-shocked by the return of routine.
That’s the skinny on today’s Peach Panzanella with Rosemary Focaccia & Mortadella. The kids may be heading back to school, but remember, summer isn’t over yet. So, grab a peach and eat the hell out of it. Or, if you have the patience, make a salad.
- 4 large peaches, pitted & cut into wedges
- 1 loaf Rosemary Foccacia (see below)
- 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves torn
- 3 Persian cucumbers, halved & coarsely chopped
- 4 Kumato tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 (200g / 7 oz) tub of mini bocconcini, drained
- 1 cup garlic-stuffed green olives
- 1/2 cup mortadella, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Fresh rosemary for sprinkling
- Sea salt for sprinking
- Pour water into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast and stir briefly. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
- Set the mixer to a low speed and add the olive oil and salt. Next, add the flour in 1/4 cup increments. Knead until a slightly sticky dough forms. About 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead for another 2 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large bowl coated with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and transfer it to a well-floured surface. Divide the dough in two and stretch each half to fit a oiled 9-inch cake pan.
- Cover pans loosely with a tea towel and let rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
- While the bread is on it's second rise, preheat the oven to 425F.
- Using your fingers, create a series of dimples on the surface of each loaf.
- Drizzle the loaves with additional olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh rosemary.
- Bake the focaccia for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Transfer the finished loaves to a cooling wrack and let cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Cut 1 loaf of foccacia into large chunks. Place them on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown, shaking the pan occasionally.
- Remove the focaccia from the oven and let cool completely.
- When the focaccia has cooled, place it along with the peaches, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, bocconcini, olives and mortadella in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.