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Real Food Fast: Walnut Panzanella Salad

I’m a big fan of dinner-sized salads in the summertime – salads with character and heft, and added protein. Sometimes I add legumes such as lentils or chickpeas, but my favorite salads are inevitably those made with crunchy toasted nuts. A handful of walnuts contains 2.5 grams of ALA, the plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber along with essential nutrients like magnesium and phosphorus.

A panzanella salad is a classic Italian salad made of torn day-old bread – a great way to use up unused loaves (use good quality crusty bread for the best salad – no processed sandwich bread here) for a cool but substantial meal on those days when you don’t want to turn on the oven. (If you don’t mind turning the oven on, I like toasting my bread pieces first – lay them out on a baking sheet and toast at 350F for 10 minutes, or until pale golden.) This nutty panzanella salad is packed with other summery ingredients, like fresh tomatoes and torn basil. It’s delicious with crumbled feta or torn fresh buffalo mozzarella (or try mini balls of bocconcini), too.

Walnut Panzanella Salad

California walnuts add crunch and an earthy flavour to this classic Tuscan bread-and-tomato salad that’s traditionally served during the summer months. It makes a flavourful side dish or appetizer.

3/4 cup California walnut pieces
4 Tbsp canola or olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp white or regular balsamic vinegar
2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
1 green onion, sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 loaf of leftover day/week-old crusty bread – 4 to 5 cups

In a small bowl, combine walnuts with 1 tbsp of oil. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add oil-coated walnuts, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine remaining olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, olives, onions, garlic, shallots and basil. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes to develop full flavour.

Tear leftover bread into bite-sized pieces or cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes. Add the bread and walnuts to tomato mixture and toss until well combined.

Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

PER SERVING: about 379 cal, 8 g pro, 22 g fat (3 g sat. fat), 39 g carb, 4 g fibre, 733 mg sodium. %RDI: 7% calcium, 16% iron, 2% vit A, 12% vit C.

Recipe and image courtesy of walnutinfo.com

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