Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions

Today’s post comes with allll the mixed emotions.

An overhead shot of delicious Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions.

There are happy memories, there are sad moments, all of which I will get more into in a moment but, for now, let’s just look at this Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions as a nostalgic meal best shared with those you love. Because life is all too fleeting, and you need to grasp those moments when you have them.


If you read my Travel Diaries: Tuscany post, you already know that this past April the hubs and I went with both of our parents and my aunt to visit our dear friends Sergio and Stefano at their beautiful Tuscan villa. My aunt and I had been there before, but our parents had yet to experience their over-the-top hospitality and beautiful grounds.

One of the biggest regrets I had on that first trip with my aunt was that we spent every day out and about exploring, and never had the chance to stay at the Villa for a day and take a cooking class, which Sergio and Stefano specialized in. I knew that when we went back to visit this was going to be a MUST. Who doesn’t want to learn what goes into true Italian cooking?

This Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions is the perfect centerpiece to a meal with good friends and loved ones.

So we spent one day on our last trip in the kitchen, learning all about how to make the fluffiest homemade gnocchi, the beefiest Bolognese and the richest tiramisu. I seriously don’t know how we did it all in the course of half of a day. But Sergio and Stefano had it down to a science, and boy did they make it all look so easy. They’d been teaching classes together for years, even traveling to the U.S. to do so, and it was oh-so-apparent in the way they took us through all of the recipes like a well-oiled machine.

We got some sad news a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, Sergio had lost a long struggle he had been fighting over some health issues the last couple of years. As would be expected, we were all deeply saddened by the news. At the same time, I feel so grateful that we were able to make the trip and spend so much time with him when we did. Sergio was such a gem: humble, kind, selfless and one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. He and Stefano had taken our crew by the hand during our trip, being the most selfless hosts while also escorting us on all of our excursions, serving as our own personal tour guides. They truly made us feel like family.

The hubby and I with our gracious hosts, Sergio and Stefano, at Villa Fabbroni in April of 2017.

Sergio was a true master in the kitchen, shown here making the stuffed pork tenderloin that inspired this very recipe!

Juicy slices of Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions.

As I often do when struggling with difficult emotions, I decided the best way to both express my sympathy and honor Sergio’s memory would be through cooking. This Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions is my own personal take on one of the (many) recipes we learned to make during their cooking class and, I have to say, I think Sergio would be proud.

It’s actually a lot more simple than it looks (or sounds,) yet is an elegant dish to serve a dinner table full of guests you care about. The version we made at the villa was filled with apples and Parmigiano, but for this version I decided to sub in one of my favorite combos: fresh pears and gruyere.

The pork tenderloin is already beautifully decadent with the filling, but becomes even more so with the light jacket of prosciutto that’s wrapped around it just before cooking.

Slices of fresh prosciutto are wrapped around this Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin before cooking.

It’s cooked completely on the stove top, but with very little hands-on work. A quick flip of the tenderloin about halfway through cooking is all you’ll need. We leave the oven open for roasting the cippolini onions, which are the perfect contrast to the Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with their sweet yet tangy glaze.

Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions is the perfect main event for any family dinner.

So here’s to all those we’ve loved and lost too soon, and all of the recipes we have to share the memories. Cheers to you Sergio, che tu possa riposare in pace.

This Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions is the perfect centerpiece to a meal with good friends and loved ones.
Print
Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Pork tenderloin makes the perfect dinner centerpiece when stuffed with pears and Gruyere and wrapped in crispy prosciutto.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 5 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the pork tenderloin:
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork tenderloin (or sirloin,) sliced in half and opened like a book
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pear, peeled and sliced
  • 3 1/2 ounces shaved Gruyere
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 2 cups chicken broth
For the cippolini onions:
  • 14 ounces peeled cippolini onions
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by pounding the pork tenderloin to a ½-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then layer on the pear and Gruyere.

  2. Lay out the slices of prosciutto on a piece of plastic wrap so that they mimic the shape that the tenderloin has taken. For mine, I made two columns of three slices of prosciutto each, right up next to each other. Place the pork on top of the prosciutto.

  3. Using the plastic wrap to hold everything together, first roll up one side of the tenderloin, then the other, having the two ends of the pork meet at the top, with the prosciutto extending over that seam just a bit. 

  4. Using a piece of butcher’s twine, make loops down the length of the tenderloin to hold everything together. I just kind of made up my method, but use whatever works best for you while losing as little of the filling as possible.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for the onions.

  6. Place a large, deep saute pan or Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat and melt the butter in it. Once the butter is melted and the pan is nice and hot, add the pork and brown it on all sides (about 2 minutes each side.)

  7. Once the pork is browned, pour in the sherry and let the alcohol evaporate off a bit, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth.

  8. Cover the pot or pan and cook for about 15 minutes. 

  9. While the meat is cooking, prep the onions. In an 8-by-8-inch baking dish, spread out the onions in a thin layer. Cut the butter into tablespoons and drop the tablespoons evenly over the onions, followed by the sugar, white vinegar, salt and pepper. Place in the preheated 350 degree oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown and can be pierced easily with a fork.

  10. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and pour off the liquid until only about ½ cup remains. Flip the pork over and replace the lid. Cook the pork for another 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

  11. Transfer the pork to a serving dish and surround it with the cooked cippolini onions. Garnish with whatever fresh herbs you may have on hand!

Pear and Gruyere Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cippolini Onions | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread

One week from Memorial Day means this cheesy goodness ↓

A close-up shot of easy, five-ingredient Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.

And this cheesy goodness goes by no other name than (somewhat obvious): Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread! I’ve been wanting to make this perfect cookout accompaniment for quite some time now, and I figured what better time to do so than for the holiday weekend that basically kicks off summer!


And I’m not stopping there. That’s right, this week I’ll be bringing you all kinds of fun BBQ-friendly dishes to get you loaded up with recipes before the hubs and I skip town and head up to Tahoe for a much needed getaway with a few of our close friends. My hubby’s birthday happens to be on Memorial Day this year so we thought, what better way to celebrate than at one of our favorite places with some of our favorite people? We’re keeping it fairly low-key, though, with a spa day penciled in and surely lots of time just relaxing around the house and catching up! I hear there may still even be snow there, which would be pretty cool.

Sorry, just a little digression, because what I’m really here to talk about is this Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread. I’m very happy to report that it turned out just every bit as good as I had imagined. And it’s so easy! We’re talking about FIVE ingredients and FIVE minutes on a high heat grill (or under the broiler.) That’s it!

Looking down on a delicious loaf of ooey-gooey Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.

Of course, if you wanted to be really adventurous, you could whip up your own BBQ from scratch, but if your household is anything like ours, you probably have at least a bottle or two of your favorite premade stuff hanging around your pantry or refrigerator.

I was lucky to have some of the Sweet ‘n Spicy BBQ Sauce from Montana Mex on hand (thanks, Eduardo!) and decided to give it a spin for this recipe. If you haven’t heard of Montana Mex or Chef Eduardo Garcia, it’s about time you did. (Sorry, just another little digression and, no, this is not sponsored! I truly was just incredibly impressed by Eduardo’s story so I wanted to share it here.)

Every year, Chris and I are lucky enough to attend some of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s events through his company’s sponsorship connections. When we heard we’d be getting tickets to the opening film this year and what the film was about, I have to admit I was a LOT more excited than I had been for the films being screened in previous years.

Charged is a film about Chef Eduardo Garcia’s survival and inspiring recovery from being charged with 2400 volts of electricity while out hiking in the woods one afternoon. Although not for the faint of heart, the film is full of Eduardo’s unwavering positivity in the face of adversity and perseverance through some very challenging obstacles.

We were lucky enough to get to chat with him after the film, and I was honored when he offered to send me a box of his company’s products. Chef Eduardo founded Montana Mex after he became frustrated with so many of the Mexican food products available here in the United States that were laden with chemicals and preservatives. So he and his business partner set out to make a line of Mexican-inspired condiments without all of the gunky stuff. Which you know is right up my alley!

A close-up shot of gooey and delicious Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.

Charged won’t be released to the general public until September (at which time you most definitely need to go see it), but if you come across any film festivals that might be airing it before then, GO! If you like inspiring stories, survival and food, you will not be disappointed.

Eek, ok! Let’s get to this Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread. Good thing it’s so easy to make because I have been rambling for far too long already and I’m sure we all have more important things to be doing on a Monday morning.

So here’s what we do: We start with a huge loaf of fresh, crusty bread. A pain rustique or ciabatta (something with lots of little air pockets in the dough) would be ideal here. We want lots of nooks and crannies for all of the butter, garlic and BBQ sauce to ooze into.

The beginning stages of making Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread - slather on butter, BBQ sauce and fresh garlic!

We slice the bread long-ways for maximum surface area, then start slathering on the good stuff – first butter, the BBQ sauce and garlic, then cheese. Because this BBQ garlic bread is CHEESY.

The second step to make Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread - slather it with cheese!

Throw the loaf halves onto the grill (if you have space to spare) or pop them under the broiler and you’ll have delicious Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread in as little as five minutes. If that’s not the perfect cookout side dish, I don’t know what is!

Another close-up of this ooey-gooey delicious Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread!

A close-up shot of easy, five-ingredient Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread.
Print
Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Not your average garlic bread! This version is loaded with zesty BBQ sauce and smothered in melted cheese, the perfect BBQ side dish!

Course: Side Dish
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf fairly flat, crusty bread (such as ciabatta or pain rustique,) sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4-6 tablespoons melted butter (depending on how large your loaf of bread is, mine was pretty big)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups shredded Asiago cheese (or Parmesan, or your favorite cheesy bread cheese!)
Instructions
  1. Place halves of bread cut side up on a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. If using the grill, turn it on high and let it begin warming up. If using the broiler, turn it on high to preheat.

  2. Spread melted butter evenly onto loaf halves, then do the same with the BBQ sauce.

  3. Sprinkle on the minced garlic and then cover the loaf halves evenly with the shredded cheese. 

  4. If using the grill, place the bread (topping side up) directly onto the grates. If using the broiler, keep the bread on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling and edges of bread are browned. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread | CaliGirlCooking.com

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter

Comin’ at ya with the most delicious non-recipe recipe today!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m calling it right now: Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platters may just become summer’s “it” entertaining item. Because, I mean, when it’s sunny and 75 degrees out, who doesn’t want a plate piled high with pineapple, papaya, kiwis and allllllll the cheese?


Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Ick, how does tropical fruit and CHEESE pair well together?” Well that, my friends, is all in the cheese. You see, I take my job as a food blogger very seriously and would never want to lead you astray, so I was sure to taste multiple cheese and tropical fruit combinations before I settled on the ones you see here. True, there are some pairings that just don’t work, but hey, there are a lot of pairings that do and I’ve taken all of the hassle of figuring that out off of your shoulders and come up with some fantastic pairings that will make your next Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day or Memorial Day get-together to the next level.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

I actually came up with the idea for this Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter last October, when my dad and I took a “business” trip to Oahu, which essentially entailed us eating our way through the island for a week. If you’re in tune with the Oahu restaurant scene at all, then you’ll be no stranger to local celebrity chef Ed Kenney’s restaurants that have been making waves (haha, pun intended) all through Honolulu over the past 10 years or so. We ate at three of his four restaurants while we were there (and only skipped the fourth one because we had eaten there multiple times when I lived there) and were duly impressed by each one. Be sure to check out my Travel Diaries: Honolulu post for more deets on all of those, but right now I want to tell you all about the basket cheese we had at one of these said restaurants, Mud Hen Water.

We were able to talk my aunt and uncle into joining us for this dinner, which was all the better since everything is served family style and this way we could order double the amount of dishes to share. I was immediately intrigued by their menu offering of “Homemade Basket Cheese” so we decided to give it a shot. What was delivered to our table just moments later was a soft, ricotta-like cheese served with a multitude of fresh tropical fruits and, let me tell you, my mind was blown.

Up until that point, I had only thought that grapes, apples, apricots and the like were acceptable to be served with cheese, but boy was I proven wrong. The creamy, mellowness of the basket cheese paired perfectly with the mango and papaya that were served alongside it, and it immediately got the food blogger wheels churning in my head about what other types of cheeses might pair well with what are some of my favorite genre of fruits.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Of course, Hawaii has the luxury of a tropical climate (and plenty of local fruit) year round, but I decided to wait until the weather started warming up a bit again here on the mainland before giving my Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter a shot for this here blog. With temperatures in the high 70’s/low 80’s expected for us in Santa Barbara this weekend, and so many fun holidays right around the corner, I figured what better time to finalize this idea on paper! (Er, I mean on screen.)

So here’s what I ended up discovering in my in-depth research of the perfect tropical fruit and cheese pairings: Any of the mild, soft ricotta-like cheeses are a DREAM pairing for allll the tropical fruits. Especially if you add a little honey! I took some creamy mascarpone I had sitting in the refrigerator and sweetened it up a little, and let me just say you’re lucky I saved some to photograph because I could have very easily sat there and eaten the whole bowl with my pineapple and papaya spears.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sticking with the creamy theme, I also found that a good, simple goat cheese is a great pairing for most tropical fruits. It adds a simple tang (much like unsweetened or Greek yogurt would) without overwhelming the fruit with too much funk or contrasting flavors.

The only hard cheese that made the cut in my taste test was a basque cheese I picked up from Trader Joe’s. It has just a touch of funk, but not so much that it fights with the other flavors on the platter. It’s fairly mild compared to some other hard cheeses, and the slight saltiness is a great contrast to the sweetness of the fruit.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Some other small touches that I found make a big difference that you may not think of:

Papaya is an interesting fruit, and can be fairly one-dimensional and almost a bit musty tasting at times. I find that a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top really transforms the flavor palate so be sure to serve some lime wedges on your platter for people to add as needed.

Of course another typical component you see on most traditional fruit and cheese platters is some sort of nut. This adds a crunchy and often salty element to the mix to contrast all of the sweet- and savory-ness. In sticking with the tropical theme, I added some macadamia nuts to the platter which added the perfect finishing touch.

And that’s it, folks! Really, the only “cooking” involved in this super easy party dish is stirring some honey into the mascarpone and plopping it into a bowl. Easy as that! Now, as I mentioned, we’ve got Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and a whole summer of entertaining ahead of us, so start scoping out the best tropical fruit you can find and get to making this to-die-for Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Tropical fruits are paired with a delicious selection of cheeses, honey and macadamia nuts - perfect for your next warm weather get-together!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
Assorted tropical fruits, such as:
  • Pineapple spears
  • Papaya spears
  • Sliced kiwis
  • Mango slices
  • Lime wedges
Honeyed Mascarpone:
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Other ingredients:
  • Creamy goat cheese
  • Basque cheese
  • Macadamia nuts
Instructions
  1. Make the honeyed mascarpone by combining the two ingredients in a small serving bowl.

  2. Arrange all ingredients on a large platter and serve!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding

Of course I had to go and bastardize a perfect Italian dish.

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

But how else would I celebrate the fact that at the very moment you’re reading this I’ll be arriving in Florence and heading up to the beautiful villa that we’ll be calling our home for the next five days? To me, there’s no better way to kick off our Italian vacation.


And let me tell you, this Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding is so delicious that you won’t even mind that it strays quite a bit from the traditional dish. In fact, there really aren’t any similar techniques between the two, I simply took all of the ingredients you’d use for Eggplant Parmesan and, instead of drenching the eggplant in breadcrumbs, I decided to nestle it in huge chunks of crusty bread along with the other typical ingredients you use like tomatoes, basil and, of course, mozzarella cheese!

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

But can we talk a minute about where I am right now and where I’ll be going over the next week and a half? Because I’m desperately looking for the best places to eat, shop and sightsee during our trip.

We’re spending our first five days in Tuscany, hopping around quite a bit to places like Florence, Montepulciano and Greve in Chianti. After that, we’ll take the train out to Venice and spend another few days there before flying home. I’ve been to all of these places before and have found a few hidden gems, but I’m always looking for more, so please, please, please send any suggestions my way if you have them. It’s my in-laws’ and hubby’s first time to Italy so naturally I want to show them THE most amazing time.

Oh yea, that’s right. This trip isn’t just the hubs and I. We’re dragging along BOTH of our parents and my aunt. My aunt and I took a similar trip (staying at the same villa in Tuscany) a few years ago, and I’ve wanted to take the parents back ever since. Fun fact: Chris and I even talked about eloping and getting married at this very villa! In the end, we couldn’t bring ourselves to exclude some of our nearest and dearest (which we would inevitably have to do with an international wedding) so you can imagine how excited I am to bring everyone that’s so special to me to this very special place.

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Anywho, let’s get back to this Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding because I clearly have more exciting things to be doing (ahem, packing) then slaving over the computer all day.

I love this recipe because there are only about 20 minutes of hands-on prep, and then you just throw it in the oven and 30-ish minutes later you have a well-rounded meal (we’re talking veggies, cheese and bread) ready to just plop down on the table and serve with a huge side salad. I’m definitely speaking from experience and let me tell you, the salad is a must. It’s the perfect complement to such a filling yet tasty dish and, hey, balance!

So the only prep you have to do is toast the breadcrumbs (which BTW you can also do up to a day in advance), give the eggplant and garlic a little saute and mix all of the “pudding” ingredients together in a big bowl before dumping it into your baking dish. That’s seriously it. Let me tell ya, it can’t get much easier!

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Towards the end of our Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding’s baking time, we’ll want to pop on the broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to get that cheese on top a little golden brown (is anyone else as obsessed with slightly burnt cheese as I am?)

Straight out of the oven -> Onto the table -> Into the mouth. That’s my ideal dinner if I’ve ever heard of one.

Now excuse me while I undoubtedly go gorge myself on all of the delicious Italian food and drink I can find for dinner. You know you want to make this Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding tonight and eat along with me in spirit!

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

The classic Italian dish revamped in bread pudding form. Sauteed eggplant, fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella tucked into loads of crusty bread.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 5 cups cubed crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed eggplant (about 1/2 of a medium eggplant)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 4 ounces cubed mozzarella
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup basil, plus additional for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add the bread and toss to evenly coat. Let bread toast in the butter until golden brown, tossing occasionally to make sure it browns evenly, about 8 or so minutes. Place finished toasted bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. In the same saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Once oil is heated, add the eggplant and then the garlic, tossing to combine and evenly coat. Saute until eggplant has softened slightly, again about another 8 minutes or so. 

  4. Add eggplant mixture and remaining ingredients (except for additional basil to garnish) to the large bowl containing the bread cubes and toss to combine. 

  5. Pour mixture into a medium sized casserole dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, keep an eye on the bread pudding to make sure the top is not getting too brown. Somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is, turn the broiler on high. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese on the top of the dish is golden and bubbly. Remove and let cool just slightly before serving. Best served with a large green salad.

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch!

**Author’s Note: You may notice that this girl-powered post is coming to you a day later than my usual weekly posting schedule. We had originally planned to post our Spring Fling Brunch on Wednesday, March 8, but then discovered that many of the ladies in our lives (coworkers, friends, family, etc.) were participating in A Day Without a Woman. After some deliberation, we decided to postpone our posts until Thursday to show our support for all females and gender-oppressed individuals. As always, I so appreciate your support for me and so many of my fellow bloggers and lady entrepreneurs. I hope you enjoy reading about our brunch just as much as we enjoyed throwing it!

I told you this was going to be a fun week!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com


I am so excited for today’s post because it has been a long time coming. I’ve mentioned it before, but I truly feel so fortunate to have met so many amazing lady entrepreneurs IRL in my small little community of Santa Barbara. I’ve met fellow bloggers, freelancers, small-business owners, you name it. I’ve enjoyed interacting with every single person I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with, and have learned so much by having this diverse sounding board to bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, etc.

Way back in November, my fellow blogging babes, Hana-Lee from Wander and Wine and Becky from Baking the Goods, and I started throwing around the idea of a collaboration brunch. We all have such unique niches when it comes to our blogs (Hana-Lee focuses on wine and travel, while Becky’s the baker and I’m the cook with a side of mixology) that we thought it would be a great opportunity to play off of each other’s strengths and introduce our readers to all of the fantastic things everyone is doing in their own little corner of the Interwebs.

Well, after much rescheduling and the craziness of the holidays, we were finally able to pull it off. The result was a super fun and festive Spring Fling Brunch we held on a beautifully sunny day last week. I whipped up this hearty Breakfast Panzanella, while Becky brought a stunning Ricotta, Potato & Spring Pea Galette and, of course, Hana-Lee brought the wine. We were also able to get some of our other local lady entrepreneurs involved – Vanessa from Garibaldi Goods provided her over-the-top delicious homemade bread (and some jam, of course!), Amy from Bright Inc. provided the beautiful flower arrangements, and Alison from Sugar Cat Studio whipped up some brunch-themed cupcakes. Be sure to check out all of their blogs/websites/businesses because they are all amazing and work their little tushes off to turn out some amazing products. So fun!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

Let me just tell you, starting the photo shoot for this brunch at 12pm was pure torture. We did so in order to capture the best lighting, but by the end of our almost two-hour shoot, all of our stomachs were audibly growling because all of the food looked (and smelled) so good! Don’t worry, we were sure to taste everything afterwards because, you know, quality control.

When we decided to give our brunch a spring theme, my mind immediately turned to creating a dish that was full of incredibly fresh ingredients (hello, warmer weather) yet hearty enough to not shock our systems too much after a season of all of those comforting winter foods. I knew a Breakfast Panzanella would go perfectly with the Spring Fling theme and set about making a version loaded with two of my favorite breakfast items – bacon and eggs, of course!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m sure you’ve had (or at least heard of) the classic version of panzanella before, which generally consists of cubes of crusty bread, fresh basil and tomatoes, and some sort of dressing involving olive oil, vinegar, shallots and capers. For my Breakfast Panzanella, I omitted the capers in the dressing (I’m not the hugest fan) and of course added bacon and eggs, plus some fresh mozzarella, because CHEESE.

What resulted was a perfectly balanced salad – the basil and tomatoes are a reminder that warmer weather is just around the corner, while the crusty bread gives the dish that hominess we still crave during this transition between the seasons. This Breakfast Panzanella is also loaded with protein from the eggs, bacon and mozzarella, so it will fill you up and give you a nice solid base for all of that wine you’ll be drinking.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

This salad also comes together in almost no time at all. You can toast the bread cubes and cook the bacon the night before, which means you’ll be able to sleep in approximately 15 minutes more before you have to roll out of bed to scramble up some eggs and whisk together the dressing. What’s left after that is simply tossing everything together in one big bowl and garnishing with some fresh basil! If this Breakfast Panzanella isn’t the perfect brunch dish, I don’t know what is.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

My recommendation to you? Call up some of your girlfriends STAT and set a date for a Spring Fling Brunch of your own. Then head on over to my gal pals’ blog posts for all of the other deets you’ll need to make it a smashing success.

For the recipe for Becky’s Ricotta, Potato & Spring Pea Galette, head on over to Baking the Goods.

For all of Hana-Lee’s wine recommendations and pairing notes, head on over to Wander and Wine.

And be sure to check out all of the other ladies’ sites as well for further inspiration!

Bright Inc. for all of your floral inspiration,

Sugar Cat Studio to grab some tasty cupcake mixes,

and Garibaldi Goods for small-batch artisan foods from local California producers.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Breakfast Panzanella
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

The classic Italian bread salad gets a morning makeover with the addition of bacon and eggs. The perfect dish for a spring-themed brunch!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 4 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6-8 basil leaves, plus 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 5 cups cubed crusty sourdough (about 1/2 of a large loaf)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces ciliegine (baby mozzarella balls)
  • 3 eggs, scrambled
For the vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once bacon is cooked, remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Do not dispose of the bacon grease in the pan!

  2. Add 6-8 basil leaves to the saute pan with the bacon grease in it (still on medium heat) and then add the bread cubes. Toast, tossing to coat, until all of the cubes are golden brown. If the cubes seem dry, drizzle on a little olive oil as they continue to toast. You may notice that the basil gets crispy and crumbly as it cooks along with the bread, this is okay! The little bits of basil will add some additional flavor to the salad once it’s done. Once the bread cubes are nice and toasted, spread out on some parchment paper to dry out and cool completely.

  3. Next, mix up the vinaigrette. Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients by shaking in a Mason jar or whisking vigorously in a small bowl. Set aside.

  4. Place the cooled bread cubes in a large bowl. Chop up the now cooled bacon and add it to the bowl as well, along with the ½ cup of chopped fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, ciliegine and scrambled eggs. 

  5. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Garnish with additional chopped basil, if desired.