Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

What’s green and orange and purple all over and tastes perfectly in season?

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect healthy meal for fall, featuring loads of fresh produce and savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas!

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette!

I know it’s not technically fall yet (just a few more days!) but after I took a little trip to the Farmer’s Market this past weekend I just couldn’t resist all of the fall produce I was seeing. Okay, maybe I just became obsessed with the fact that here in Santa Barbara we are deep in the throes of a very short fresh fig season, and I can’t help snatching a bunch of them up whenever I see them because I know they may be gone the next time I head out for groceries.

So yes, this salad stars plenty of fresh figs, but it features so many other fun fall things as well. We’re talking sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) and – wait for it – SAVORY PUMPKIN SPICE CHICKPEAS!! You guys, they’re amazing. Perfectly crispy with all that fun pumpkin spice flavor and then a savory hit of garlic. Even if you don’t make the entire Fall Harvest Chopped Salad, please, please, PLEASE make these savory pumpkin spice chickpeas for a healthy, protein-packed snack. You will not be able to get enough!

Savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas are the perfect addition to a Fall Harvest Chopped Salad.

And can we talk for a minute about chopped salads? I love salads served in this way (i.e. all of the ingredients already chopped up into bite-size pieces) for multiple reasons, mostly because (a) you can get a taste of every single ingredient in each bite and (b) you don’t have to worry about looking like a complete dinosaur with a giant piece of lettuce hanging out of your mouth when you try to take a bite. Easy to eat, full of flavor – that’s my kind of healthy meal!

Usually I like to keep things simple with salads and keep the cooking to a minimum, but since we’re heading into fall I figured you wouldn’t mind just a little bit of oven/stove time to really make some of these flavors pop.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is going to quickly become your go-to nutritious lunch or dinner for the season, and those savory pumpkin spice chickpeas are probably most definitely going to become your new favorite healthy snack.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect light lunch or dinner to usher in the fall season.

So let’s talk about what all exactly needs to go on here to make this salad come to life.

The only oven time required is for roasting both our sweet potatoes and chickpeas, and the good news is that they can be roasted together, at the same oven temperature, for the same amount of time. How convenient is that?

The only other “cooking” required is toasting up our pepitas, because if there’s one thing I learned during my time as a pastry assistant, it’s that you should be toasting your nuts WHENEVER you are adding them to any sort of recipe. It seriously adds so much flavor and is most definitely worth the extra 10 minutes or so of toasting over the stove.

Aside from the roasting and toasting, all this Fall Harvest Chopped Salad requires is a good tossing in a huge bowl and a drizzle of shallot-tinged apple cider vinaigrette. And speaking of vinaigrette, this one couldn’t be easier. You may have noticed from the other salads I have here on the blog (like this Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette and this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts) that I like to keep my dressings simple. I feel like you should really let all of the flavors of whatever produce and other goodies you’re using in the dish shine through and not coat it in a blanket of heavy, creamy, or otherwise overwhelming flavor.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette feeds a crowd!

The apple cider vinaigrette we drizzle over this fall-forward salad adds the perfect touch of acidity (with a nice apple-y hint of flavor) while the shallots add an extra dimension to all of the other flavors in the mix. My only caution would be to wait and add the dressing right before serving. Since we’re using regular lettuce (as opposed to a heartier green like kale) it will wilt quickly if you leave it soaking in the dressing for too long.

But that’s it! Having this Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette prepped and ready for dinner tonight is not just a possibility, it’s a necessity!

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect healthy meal or side dish for the busy days of back-to-school.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect healthy meal for fall, featuring loads of fresh produce and savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas!
Print
Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

This seasonal, healthy salad is full of fresh figs, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds and savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas. 

Course: Main Course, Salad
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the savory pumpkin spice chickpeas:
  • 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
For the roasted sweet potato:
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Other salad ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
  • 8 cups chopped red and green lettuce
  • 6 purple figs, quartered
For the apple cider vinaigrette:
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, toss together all of the chickpea ingredients. Spread mixture over a small jelly roll pan.

  2. In a separate small baking dish, combine all of the roasted sweet potato ingredients.

  3. Place both the chickpeas and the sweet potato in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, open the oven and give the chickpeas a little shake. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crunchy and the sweet potatoes are golden brown and fork tender. Remove and let cool while you prep the rest of the salad.

  4. Place the chopped lettuce in a large salad bowl. Add the figs, pumpkin seeds, sweet potato and chickpeas. 

  5. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a Mason jar. Seal and give a good shake. Drizzle dressing over salad right before serving. 

Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

The ultimate Dad food.

A large serving platter of Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese over a bed of mixed greens.

But really, if you’re trying to sneak in any sort of salad/light-ish side dish for your Father’s Day cookout this weekend, these Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese are the answer. I mean, whose Dad doesn’t like bacon?

And bacon isn’t all you get here. Prepare yourself for an explosion of garlic-laced balsamic flavor, meaty mushrooms and a sprinkling of tangy goat cheese. Serve it all over a bed of greens (I’m partial to something involving arugula) and the dish passes as a salad that the dudes will even be helping themselves to seconds of.

An overhead shot of a single serving of delicious Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese, served over a bed of greens.

To start, I used the same marinade that I use for my Balsamic-Marinated Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. I love marinating veggies because they only need 30 minutes MAX before they’re ready to go. No waiting hours (or worse, overnight!) for them to be ready for the grill.

While the mushrooms are marinating, you’ll partially cook the bacon in the oven. Because mushrooms don’t take too long to grill up, we need to give the bacon a little head start. The partially cooked bacon gets wrapped around our sufficiently marinated Portobello’s, then we fire up the grill!

Once we have the mushrooms on the grill, this dish will be ready in a flash. The ‘shrooms will only need about 5-6 minutes on each side to cook (hence, why we precooked the bacon,) then we let them cool slightly, lay them over the bed of greens and sprinkle with that crumbly goat cheese. That’s it! And because there’s so much flavor packed into the Portobello’s, you really don’t even need a separate dressing.

A tray of delicious Portobello mushrooms.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of having some of these Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese with all of the other delicious food we’ll be eating this weekend has me REAL excited for our trip up to our parents’.

In fact, I’m taking a tip from my gal Lee over at Fit Foodie Finds and hustling to get all my work done by end-of-day Thursday so I can take Friday off and spend it getting ready for our little road trip north later that afternoon. Anyone else here whose self-employed agree that every summer work week should only be four days?? Let’s start a movement! I’m hoping it helps me be more productive during the week if I have more strict guidelines of when I need to get things done by. The extra hours of sunlight don’t hurt either so I can get more photography done during the day!

Okay, but seriously, even if you’re not doing anything special this weekend, or if you want a quick, healthy meal to get you through the rest of this week, I highly recommend you get about making these Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese.

A large plate of Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese, ready to be enjoyed on Father's Day!

Here’s to getting through the rest of the work week with delicious food on the horizon!!

A large serving platter of Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese over a bed of mixed greens.
Print
Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Marinated Portobello mushrooms wrapped in bacon and topped with crumbly goat cheese. A hearty, delicious salad that even the guys in your life will love!

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 6 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed, cut into spears
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 pieces bacon
  • Goat cheese
  • Mixed greens, to serve (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the mushrooms in a resealable plastic bag with garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Make sure the mushrooms are evenly coated with the marinade and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

  2. While the mushrooms are marinating, partially cook the bacon. Lay the bacon out on a large jelly roll pan line with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (so you will not be preheating the oven, it will preheat while the bacon is already inside.) Set the timer for 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the bacon from the oven and let cool slightly, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Remove the mushrooms from the refrigerator and wrap each one with a piece of the partially cooked bacon. 

  4. Heat your gas grill to medium, then put on the bacon-wrapped mushrooms spears. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the bacon is sufficiently cooked. Be careful when working the grill as the grease from the bacon may cause flare-ups. 

  5. Place cooked mushrooms spears over a bed of mixed greens and sprinkle with goat cheese, to serve. 

Bacon-Wrapped Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad

The delicious Memorial Day-friendly eats continue! And today I’m even talking about some outdoor entertaining tips to boot 😉

Overhead view of a beautiful summer tablescape featuring a Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad.
This post is sponsored by Q Squared.

This Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad is most definitely one for the books. It’s full of healthy veggies and quinoa, and topped with my favorite luscious, creamy cheese. Even better, it’s both omnivore- and vegetarian-friendly. Plenty of substance for your meat-loving friends yet perfectly suitable for those plant-eaters among you! (A must for large-group entertaining, as you’ll see below.)

One of the things I love most about Instagram is stumbling across different brands and companies that I may have never encountered otherwise. It’s so fun to see what other influencers are loving, which posts are going viral, and what other Insta-friends are liking and commenting on.

Q Squared is one of those brands whose products I absolutely fell in love with as soon as I saw them cross my feed. They make some of the most beautiful tableware that you’d never guess is made out of melamine and completely shatter-proof. So naturally, when they offered to send me a set of my choosing, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, Memorial Day weekend is upon us which means outdoor-friendly, shatter-proof dinnerware is where it’s at!

A single serving of Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad in beautiful QSquared melamine dinner ware.

You can see from the photos just how beautiful these products are (and this is just one of the designs to choose from!) but what you can’t see is just how amazingly durable they are. They truly feel like legitimate dinnerware and you do not have to worry one bit about it looking cheesy or cheap. High class all the way!

As soon as I decided on the Lima design as my set of choice, I started brainstorming what eventually turned into this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad. I knew I wanted to take advantage of all of the bright blues and greens in the dinnerware and all of the in-season spring produce, so I took a little trip to the Farmer’s Market for inspiration. What I came across were the cutest little spring onions and piles upon piles of fresh fava beans. Not to mention fresh basil! I decided that these spring superstars, with the addition of quinoa, toasted walnuts, fresh lemon juice and creamy burrata, would make the perfect grain salad to serve over Memorial Day weekend.

The salad comes together quickly, especially if you cook the quinoa and prep the fava beans in advance. Even better, it’s great served warm, cold or at room temperature. Just add the burrata right before serving to ensure its freshness (and ooziness.)

A close-up view of the creamy burrata oozing over the top of this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad.

Which brings me to the other topic of this post: My Top Four Outdoor Entertaining Tips!

Let me break it down for you real quick here:

1. Opt for sturdy tableware.

You should have two goals for whatever dinner/serving ware you use for your outdoor soiree: it should stand up well to wind (you don’t want to be chasing down paper plates and napkins as soon as a little breeze picks up!) and it should be shatter-proof (especially important if you’re entertaining anywhere near a pool.) Good thing Q Squared has everything you need! (And with a special discount for my readers at that, see below!)

2. Plan your menu around what’s in season in your area.

For me, outdoor entertaining is THE time to showcase the season’s best produce. We’re dining in nature, after all, so why not enjoy what nature has to offer?

3. Serve food that is okay being left out for a bit.

Outdoor cookouts are typically meant to be casual get-togethers, not multi-course plated dinners hot out of the oven. You’ll want dishes that can sit out for a bit for people to help themselves at their convenience.

Be sure to offer something that people of all dietary preferences can enjoy.

This is one of the reasons I love grain salads. Although it’s not vegan due to the cheese, this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad can easily be made so by just omitting that part. Be sure to offer something vegetarian, vegan and omnivore-friendly so no one leaves hungry.

This Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad is the perfect dish to serve alongside your favorite cookout food.

Not too difficult, right? Like I mentioned, one of the greatest things about outdoor entertaining is that it’s meant to be CASUAL. Low-key, easy-going vibes are where it’s at. And with the right food and serving ware, can you really go wrong?

Now comes the best part. I’ve teamed up with Q Squared to offer you, my dear readers, a 20% discount on all of their products. So time to stock up! Just be sure to use the discount code CALIGIRL20 at checkout to get this sweet deal. Recipe is below and link to buy all the pretty things is here. What are you waiting for??

A close-up view of the creamy burrata oozing over the top of this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad.
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Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad

This grain salad is the perfect outdoor entertaining dish. It's loaded with filling quinoa and fresh vegetables and topped with creamy burrata cheese!

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fava beans (about 1/2 cup shelled beans)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 green onion, diced (both the bulb and the green stems)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1/3 cup chiffonaded basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 8 ounces burrata
Instructions
  1. First, prepare the fava beans. You’ll need to pull the beans out of their shells, and then cook the beans in a small pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, transferring them to an ice bath afterwards to cool. At this point, you should be able to peel off the beans’ waxy coating.

  2. In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shelled fava beans and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, then remove from heat.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, fava beans, spring onion, walnuts and 1/3 cup basil. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. If not serving right away, refrigerate for the time being.

  4. Right before serving, top with burrata. Cut into it (breaking it into smaller pieces) so each person gets a piece as you’re serving.

Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad

The perfect weekend recovery food!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com

This Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad is a perfect, healthy, filling meal if I ever saw one, and it’s oh so delicious. If any of you had a weekend like I had, you’re definitely ready to whip this up with your favorite lean protein for dinner tonight.

As I mentioned on Friday, we were up in Santa Cruz visiting my parents this weekend, which also happened to involve helping my little sis move into her new house and having an early Sunday birthday brunch for me. All of the family affairs, celebrations and craziness never make for the healthiest eating, but I never restrict myself (everything in moderation!) and just make sure to eat extra-healthy in the days leading up to and following all of the madness. That’s what balanced living is all about!

So when we rolled back into town late last night, all I wanted was a big bowl of whole grains and veggies. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad sitting around in the fridge, so we had to settle with takeout. Not necessarily the healthiest of options (although we still try to get a well-balanced meal even when we order out) but we knew we’d get right back in the groove of healthy eating today. Smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch. You get the idea! This should last all of two days since my birthday is on Wednesday, but we only live once, right?

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com

It’s no secret that ever since I tried the most delicious grain salad in Napa, I have been obsessed with the idea of them. It was way back in May of last year that I made this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans, so I figured now that we’re having some warmer “salad-friendly” weather here in California, it was high time for me to come up with another fun version featuring some of spring’s freshest produce. I’m very happy to say that this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad is not going to let you down and, even better, if you don’t love butter as much as I do, you can easily make this dish vegan!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com

So let’s get down to the dirty details. First of all, if you live anywhere near a Trader Joe’s, you’re already in great shape. I got all of my ingredients for this salad there, except for the lemons because we have an abundance of them growing in our yard at the moment. That being said, you really shouldn’t have any trouble getting these ingredients at just-your-average grocery store, TJ’s just makes it soooo convenient.

I started out by sautéing some fresh leeks and garlic in a healthy dose of butter. It may seem like a lot at first, but keep in mind that we’re adding much more to this dish than just leeks and garlic, and all of those extra ingredients mean we need all of that extra butter. BUT, if you are trying to be uber-healthy or if you follow a vegan diet, you can swap in good ol’ coconut oil and this salad will still turn out amazing. Promise.

After our leeks and garlic have started sweating it out a bit, we add some fresh corn kernels. If you don’t happen to live in an area where you can get fresh corn year round, frozen kernels would also work just fine.

The corn kernels are followed by our cooked, shelled edamame, which Trader Joe’s conveniently sells prepped and ready to go in their produce section. Again, if you don’t have access to these, a frozen bag of shelled edamame would work just fine. Just be sure they’re already cooked!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com

The final steps are to throw in some pre-cooked barley (a great thing to meal prep on the weekends and throw into healthy meals all week) and some snipped fresh chives. The only sort of dressing that graces our salad is the aforementioned butter and a hefty dose of fresh lemon juice. I do want to mention one thing about the ¼ cup quantity I’ve called for here: we have Meyer lemons in our backyard, which tend to be more sweet and less tart than your average lemons. That being said, if you are using standard lemons, you may want to dial it back just a tad. Just remember to taste as you go and balance the acidity out with the salt. You’ll do just fine!

This Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad is full of filling carbohydrates (which I know some of you colder-weather readers are still totally craving right now) yet plenty of fresh, vibrant produce to remind us that spring is just around the corner. It comes together in under 20 minutes and tastes just as good hot or cold, making it perfect to have on hand for any situation that requires a healthy meal ASAP. It’s quickly become another go-to of mine and I hope it will soon become one of yours too!

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

This hearty and healthy grain salad is the perfect dish to usher in warmer weather - loaded with filling carbohydrates and vibrant produce, enjoy it alone or with your favorite lean protein!

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil, for vegan version)
  • 1 trimmed leek, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups corn kernels (about 2 small ears)
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled, cooked edamame
  • 2 cups cooked barley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Melt butter or coconut oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes, until leeks begin to sweat and become fragrant. Add corn kernels and turn heat up to medium-high.

  2. Let corn kernels cook for another 3 minutes, then add edamame. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn and edamame begin to get golden flecks on their skins (a slight char.)

  3. Turn heat back down to medium and add barley and chives. Stir to combine.

  4. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper (tasting as you go) until you’ve achieved your desired level of balanced flavors. Serve warm or cold. 

Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad | 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
Print
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.