Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pea Panzanella

I had to try this recipe out after having a wonderful Pea Panzanella at a friend's house.  Panzanella is basically an Italian dish involving stale bread and usually tomatoes, olive oil, and other herbs and ingredients.  However, the pea version doesn't have tomatoes, but certainly makes use of a number of green vegetables instead.  It's really a wonderful springtime dish and I guess the recent warm weather has me thinking spring (despite the fact it is February).

This Pea Panzanella is adapted slightly from Michael Chiarello's recipe of the Food Network.  It has a great, fresh taste and is loaded with healthy ingredients: peas, olive oil, spring greens, and fresh herbs.  I hope you like it as much as we did.  It's a great dish to serve at a party or just for something different (and vegetarian) for an everyday side dish or main entrée.

Panzanella Bread:

  • 1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)
  • 3 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Minced Onion
  • 3 Tbsp. Fresh Marjoram, Chopped (or 3 tsp. dried)
  • 1 Loaf Italian or French Bread (a day old is best), Cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 Cup Grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano Cheese Blend
  • 5 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, Chopped (or 5 tsp. dried)
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Green Onion, Chopped (or 3 tsp. dried)
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper


  • 1 1/2 Cups Frozen Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth (use Sodium-Free if you can)
  • 1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice

Combined Salad:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano Cheese Blend
  • 5 Cups Spring Lettuce Greens
  • 3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Panzanella Cubes:
1.  In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Once well-melted, add in the garlic and minced onion; stir for 2 minutes.  Add in the marjoram and stir well.
2.  Place bread cubes in a large bowl.  Pour butter mixture over the bread and toss or stir quickly to evenly coat the bread.  Stir in the cheese, basil, and green onions.  Add a couple pinches of salt and pepper if you desire.
3.  Place the bread mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake until the bread is lightly browned, about 7-8 minutes (outer bit of bread pieces will be crunchy and middles should still be soft).

1.  In a saucepan, over low heat, cook the frozen peas in the milk and butter for about 4-5 minutes.
2.  Puree the milk-pea mixture in a blender or a food processor.  Slowly add in the chicken broth, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Puree until smooth.  Cool over an ice bath or in refrigerator.

Combining the Salad:
1.  In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes and the pea puree.  Stir well to coat the cubes.  Stir in the cooked peas and cheese.
2.  Use a ring from a 10-inch spring-form pan upside down on a large plate.  Fill it with the bread mixture, pressing it down lightly into place.  Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes, then remove the ring.
3.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, toss the spring greens with lemon juice and olive oil.  Sprinkle the greens on top of the panzanella.  Add grated Parmesan/Pecorino Romano cheese on top.  Serve immediately.


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