Apparently I’ve been on a one-track tomato mind since our tomato-picking expedition! I promise Monday’s recipe is a sweet and healthy breakfast recipe with no tomatoes involved. 😉 But this recipe today is 100% more than worth a little extra tomato exposure!
This recipe was destined to become one of my favorites. For starters, it’s not your basic lettuce + cucumber + tomato + carrot house salad (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just get bored quickly!). Plus, on that whole “getting bored quickly” thing, I get bored sometimes with salads that are primarily leafy greens. I love me some leafy greens, but I also love things like chopped salads and salads that have very little, if not any leaves present! This salad perfectly fits that bill. You’re getting a big veggie punch, but you don’t have to add leafy greens if you don’t want to!
I had instant polenta in my pantry, so I whipped up a quick batch that I let cool in a square pan. If you have the pre-made logs of polenta, that works too! Just skip the first couple steps in the recipe and pick up where you’re slicing the polenta and then bake it to crispy polenta perfection (can you tell I’m obsessed?). Another pro tip – remove the seeds from the cucumber and tomato. It makes the salad hold up a little better and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my crispy polenta getting overly soggy from mushy veggie seeds.
I have included a couple options for you. You have the basic salad recipe, which is super delicious (and PS the vinaigrette is stolen from my Zucchini Noodle Caprese Salad – I’m obsessed with it!). One night we took the basic salad and also added some fresh arugula and cannellini beans, to up the veg power another little bit, and get a little more satiating protein involved to make it more of an entrée salad. You could always also add some fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced red onions (we’re not big fans of raw onions!), or some grilled chicken or fish. Yum!
Let me know how you make it your own! Be well!
Polenta Panzanella Salad
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup instant polenta
- 1 cucumber
- 1 pound tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- pinch of salt
- pinch of black pepper
- Optional Add Ins: Cannellini beans arugula, grilled chicken or fish
- Bring water to a boil then slowly whisk in instant polenta. Continue to whisk until thickened and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Transfer polenta to an 8x8-inch square pan that has been lightly brushed with olive oil. Allow to cool in the fridge for at least an hour, or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Turn polenta out onto a cutting board and slice into small wedges. Lightly brush a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil. Spread polenta on baking sheet and brush tops of polenta with a little additional olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, turning polenta halfway through.
- Allow polenta to cool thoroughly (it will continue to crisp while it cools).
- Halve the cucumber lengthwise, remove seeds, and chop into thin half-moon slices.
- Halve tomatoes, remove seeds and innards, and chop into small wedges.
- Tear basil leaves into small pieces.
- Combine the olive oil, balsamic, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper and whisk thoroughly until vinaigrette is formed.
- Toss cooled polenta, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and vinaigrette until thoroughly coated. Refrigerate for about an hour, allowing flavors to sit and marinate a little!
- Serve and enjoy!