Photo Credit: Food Network
Photo Credit: Food Network

For the Love of Ina

First a word about Ina Garten, otherwise known as The Barefoot Contessa. Lee LOVES Ina. A lot. So much so that he named his beloved rescue dog after her. Lee loves to cook and cites any one of Ina’s Cookbooks as his “favorite read.” Since Ina has 11 published cookbooks with another on the way, Lee has plenty of inspiration to pursue one of his favorite hobbies which is cooking.  

Below is one of Lee’s Favorites by Ina.  Lee has added his own twist to the original recipe by adding roasted shrimp!  Toss fresh Shrimp with some Georgia olive oil ( lemon zest, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees until just pink and slightly firm.  Just 6-8 minutes.  He hopes you enjoy it half as much as he does!  (See Lee’s photo below the recipe.) 

Ina Garten’s Panzanella Salad

This panzanella, aka Tuscan bread salad, is simply croutons made from day-old bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, onions, and a tangy vinaigrette.  

Ina describes it like this… “this salad was invented by Italians to use up leftover bread. It’s just sorta a lovely act of fate that the experience of sorta chewy bread being saturated with vinaigrette and jumbled with other vegetables is one that’s intensely satisfying.” 


For the vinaigrette 

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic 

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 

3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 

1/2 cup really good extra-virgin olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

For the panzanella 

3 tablespoons really good extra-virgin olive oil 

1 small French bread or boule, preferably a day old, cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes (6 cups) 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes 

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick 

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes 

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes 

1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced 

20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped 

3 tablespoons capers, drained 

1 handful parsley leaves (optional) 


Make the vinaigrette 

1. Whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. 

Make the panzanella 

2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. Remove from the heat. 

3. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, capers, and, if desired, parsley. Add the bread cubes and the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season the bread salad liberally with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or let the salad sit for half an hour to allow the flavors to blend before serving. 

Main Photo Credit: FoodNetwork

Shrimp Variation Courtesy of Lee Hall

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