Panzanella Salad

Todays Lesson: Waste Not Want Not

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   I think we’ve all heard this saying at some point in our lives and yet today we live in a world especially in America where we waste so much.  Literally Americans waste almost half of their food, an astonishing 40%!  This is a serious problem for a lot of reasons.  First, all this food going to the landfill creates a lot of greenhouse emissions which we certainly don’t need more of. Second, there is the fact that we use a ton of oil and water to produce our food, both of which are becoming scarcer.  According to the Water Foot Print Network, when you throw out a half of a hamburger it’s like taking an hour-long shower.  So when we waste food we waste many other resources as well.  The price of food has continued to rise and will keep doing so as oil, water and soil are all being strained by our giant agricultural industry.  So what can we do to end our wasteful ways? A lot, start by making a grocery list so you don’t over buy.  Look at what you have before you go to the store so you don’t buy something you already have.  Going to the store more often can also help.  I usually try to by meals from Sunday to Wed and then I try to get creative with what I have left over for the rest of the week.  This also gives you some wiggle room incase something comes up like a last minute invite.  And lastly lets get creative with the food that is at risk of rotting away in our fridge or going bad on the counter.

One item that never seems to fail to go bad in our house is bread, especially a French Baguette.  The first day it’s crusty on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside.  By the second day you’re lucky if you don’t break a tooth trying to eat it, and by the third day you can use this leftover bread as a lethal weapon.  So I decided instead of tossing the rest of this loaf out I would make one of my favorite dishes, a panzanella salad.  I love this because sometimes salads are too light for me and so adding the bread gives you a substantial meal.  Another great option for stale bread is to put it in a food processor and make homemade breadcrumbs!

Panzanella Salad

Ingredients (serves two)

*Day old bread (you can use any type of bread for this salad, it helps if it’s not super fresh, otherwise it can get soggy)

*1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half

*1 medium cucumber sliced

*1 medium zucchini sliced

*1/4 red onion sliced

*A few sprigs of basil sliced

*Drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil about 2 Tbs each

*Salt and pepper

*As with most dishes feel free to improvise and use different vegetables

Directions

Chop up or rip apart bread into bite size pieces, cut up all other vegetables and basil.  Mix vegetables and bread together in a large bowl and drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top.  Mix in the basil and salt and pepper and serve.  The vinegar and oil soak into the slightly stale bread softening it a bit, but you still get a nice texture.  This salad doesn’t keep very well so make sure to eat it soon after you’ve prepared it.

Bon Appetite!

Melissa

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