Welcome holiday season! It’s the time of year for gathering friends and family around the table and spending quality time with one another. It’s my favorite time of year because I see family members that I don’t have a chance to see often and I can eat enormous amounts of Christmas cookies without feeling guilty. It’s also a time of cooking....lots and lots of cooking. We all have a few holiday parties we know we need to attend, one or more might even be a potluck.
I love potlucks because it takes pressure off the host, both financially and time-wise. I have no issue making a dish if each person brings something to pitch in as well. It’s economical and it’s fair, bottom line. The holidays can already be expensive without hosting parties. If each person brought an item to contribute, there would be more than enough to go around and at least one thing that everyone loves. Am I right? I say we bring the potlucks back. There’s no reason one person needs to carry all the cooking responsibilities during the holidays.
We have three potluck recipes coming up (including today’s) that are all easy to prepare and quick starting with a Panzanella Salad, otherwise known as Italian bread salad. It doesn’t get easier than this. No cooking is involved and it’s whipped up in a matter of minutes. The ingredients are also simple: bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cherry tomatoes, onion and basil. They come together for a bright, flavorful side dish that pairs beautifully with meats. So regardless of your featured dish, this is a fabulous addition: beef tenderloin, turkey, chicken, ham. You name it!
For the bread to maintain its integrity, it’s important to use stale bread. If there isn’t enough time for the bread to dry out from the time you buy it to the time you need to use it, use the oven. Cube up the loaf, pop it on a baking sheet and into a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes until it’s nice and toasty. You don’t want to burn it, you want to dry it out and crisp up enough to hold it’s own against the juice of the tomatoes and the olive oil-balsamic mix.
So what do you think? Are you for or against holiday potlucks?
½ loaf Stale Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Red Onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup Basil, torn
1 - Mix together the olive oil and balsamic until emulsified.
2 - In a large bowl, mix together the bread, tomatoes, onion and basil. Drizzle with the balsamic and oil mixture. Toss until well distributed. Serve.