I love camping and cooking outdoors, but there is nothing like cleaning up in the middle of a camping trip and heading to a restaurant, to make you really appreciate your creature comforts. A few weeks back, my husband and I were camping with some good friends in the Okanagan and we all decided that it would be a nice break to head off to a winery, taste a bit of wine and eat some lunch. We all jumped in the truck and drove 1 ½ hours down a gravel road to Hester Creek Winery in Oliver, BC and its Tuscan restaurant, “Terrafina”.
Well, we had only been camping for 3 days, but you would think that we had been imprisoned and starved for months, the way that we attacked the menu. Our table of six was oohing and ahhhing at every offering on the menu, creating quite the ruckus.
After some deliberation, both my husband and I chose the Chef’s Special – a Quinoa, Panzanella Salad, which of course inspired today’s post. This is one of those stick-to-your-ribs-I-must-eat-this-again-salads! It was literally the most jaw-dropping salad I have eaten in years!
I have always thought it fun to eat in a restaurant, make note of what I think the ingredients are, and then come home to re-create it. In today’s case I did that, and put my own spin on it. I really hope you all like this recipe. The list of ingredients is a bit long, but don’t be daunted by that. I have made this 2 times now and both times it has been a raving hit. Honestly, my mouth still waters when I think of it! (Pardon my modesty!)
I am taking an overflowing bowl of this salad to Angie’s Fiesta Friday tonight. I know that everyone there will enjoy this robust dish. To all of my Italian friends who attend FF, I know this salad is probably not at all the traditional bread salad you make, but I have noticed that there are many variations of the recipe in books and on the internet and now, well, here is another one!
Our dear host, Angie is off on vacation this week, so we are very lucky tonight to have our lovely Aussie co-host team, comprised of Saucy @ Saucy Gander and Margot @ Gather and Graze. These ladies are one class act and they do know how to party! So who’s wearing the most sparking gown? Edna? Madge? Let’s head on over and find out!
Quinoa Panzanella Salad
6 cups salad greens
1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
1 large carrot, julienned
1½ cups grape tomaotes
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
¼ cup sundried tomatoes (oil packed) drained on paper towels
½ cup sliced black olives
½ cup sliced green olives
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 loaf Focaccia bread (or another rustic bread)
For the bread:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons basil pesto
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400° F.
In a small bowl, toss grape tomatoes with a bit of olive oil. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes, just until the skins begin to wrinkle. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Tear the loaf of bread into big bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl with the oil, garlic and dried basil. Toss so that the pieces of bread are nicely coated. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet and put in oven to toast lightly. When the bread is lightly golden, remove from the oven and set aside.
Place all of the salad dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until incorporated. Remove to a serving container.
Place all of the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl. Add the tomatoes and bread pieces. Toss with some of the dressing.
Divide salad among the plates. Pass extra Parmesan cheese and dressing. Crack open a bottle of crisp, cold rosé (we drank some of Hester Creek’s) and break into song, preferably something Italian!