Greek Pita Panzanella Salad with Fresh Dill Vinaigrette ~ Crunchy Vegetables and Spiced Shrimp
A perfect recipe for a Mother's Day feast. Colorful, crunchy, crispy, tangy, creamy, low in fat and big on flavor... spoil Mom!
Components of the Salad:
Crunchy Vegetables: Thinly sliced Cucumber, Fennel and Red Onion marinated in the dressing.
Fresh Dill Vinaigrette
Chopped Vegetables: Romaine Lettuce, Colorful Cherry Tomatoes, Three Colored Peppers, Bulgarian Feta Cheese (creamy and not too salty) with Fresh Dill
Bread Croutons: make Pita Bread (it's fun!) or use store bought Naan Bread
Sauteed Spiced Shrimp
Oh what a salad! A great balance of ingredients that all work together. A Panzanella Salad classically is one based on crunchy bread croutons, onions and tomatoes. Here it is an addition, not the base for the salad (ok - trying to lower the carbs a bit!)
If you love the process of making bread, this is a great recipe to master. Making your own Pita Bread allows you to shape it to your liking. I like to stretch and shape it a little thicker than commercial bakeries; which turns into a thicker, more bread like crouton. Or, purchase Naan Bread sold in most markets. It is less dry than purchased pita, and crisps nicely for the "panzanella" in the salad. The bread is cut into chunky triangles, tossed with garlic and olive oil, baked until crispy and sprinkled with sea salt.
Cucumber, Fennel and Red Onion are sliced thinly and marinated a little in the Fresh Dill Vinaigrette. If time is an issue, simply chop up these veggies, and add to the salad.
The Fresh Dill Vinaigrette can be made a few days ahead, and the pita bread, if you are making, can be portioned and frozen for a few days, then baked.
There are many varieties of Feta Cheese in your local upscale market or cheese shop. Look for Bulgarian Feta or French Feta; they are creamier and less salty than supermarket types. The flavor and texture benefits by bringing it to room temperature before serving. I break it into nice chunks, sprinkle with a generous hand of chopped dill, and set aside while I compile the salad.
I cut each shrimp into three pieces, mix with spices and olive oil, and marinate an hour or overnight. When ready to use, saute over high heat with a squirt of fresh lemon and some torn oregano leaves. A terrific addition to the salad. If you prefer chicken, marinate boneless fat free chicken thighs as you would the shrimp. For you vegetarians ~ substitute your favorite protein, such as garbanzo beans, or grilled soy tofu.
Take the time to show Mom you love her with your beautiful salad arranging abilities! Here's to Mom ~ a healthy way to say you appreciate her!
Bon Appetit to all Moms with Love,
Thinly sliced crunchy vegetables: Cucumber, Fennel and Red Onion
Fresh Ingredients make a Salad Great; Bulgarian Feta with Dill, Colorful Cherry Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Marinated Crunchy Vegetables, Pita Croutons and Fresh Dill Vinaigrette
Macerate Red Onion and Garlic in Aged White Wine Vinegar and Dijon Mustard for the Dressing
Fresh Dill Vinaigrette
Pita Dough Rising
Pita Dough portioned and ready to roll
Pitas ~ Grilled or Baked
Pita Dough Croutons (right) or use purchased Naan Bread (left)
Spiced Shrimp to be sauteed
A beautiful layered Salad