Panzanella with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette Recipe

It’s usually around 11 o’clock in the morning when I begin to plan what I’ll serve my family for dinner. It begins with a list of vegetables I know my four year old and husband will accept on the plate. There will be no kale, but there needs to be something green. My ultimate goal will be to get something fast, fresh, and balanced before them. It’s usually around 5:30 that my great plans unravel and we end up with something grab and go or pizza-shaped.

The plot gets more difficult as the polar vortices plod on towards what we hope will one day be spring. I’m beginning to tire of heavy coats and braises. Although, I’m not quite ready to shed my roomy and soft sweaters. I need a weeknight dish that comes together warm, hearty, and healthy.

I stumbled upon the last loaf of Levain bread from the grocery store when my mind tumbled back to the bright, red tomatoes I’d seen in the produce aisle. I could use a collection of mostly local ingredients for dinner in a manner of minutes. We have such great producers here, from the Rustica Bread to rich and creamy Shepherd’s Way sheep’s milk cheese and those Bushel Boy tomatoes that actually carry the juice and perfume of a backyard ripened fruit. Even the extra smoky bacon that I used was from not too far away Theilen Meats of Pierz, MN. I’d take a road trip just for that stuff. I could toss all these things in a bowl and create a warm, winter bread salad that is crispy, crunchy, creamy, and just right for a weeknight.

Panzanella with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

3/4 loaf of sourdough
1/4 lb bacon, diced
4 ripe tomatoes
1 small red bell pepper
1/2 sweet onion
1 avocado
2 green scallions
1/4 lb soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Tear bread into bite sized pieces into a large bowl. Dice tomatoes, pepper, avocado, onion, and green onion. Add to bowl.

Over medium high heat, brown bacon. Take off heat. Stir in mustard and vinegar. Toss to combine ingredients. Let stand five minutes, while you open a nice bottle of wine and pour yourself a congratulatory glass. Dinner is served.

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