A Mouthful of Stars
I started making this peasant dish, known as a panade, to use up the leftover crusty bits of pain de campagne and pesto from a summery vegetable soupe au pistou. Sometimes I add a layer of thinly sliced eggplant or zucchini. The inside is soft and rich with garlic while the cheesy crunchy bits of bread on top are the prize and quite addictive. Serve with a green salad dressed simply with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a fruity extra-virgin olive oil.
In Provence, a pistou is made with just basil, olive oil, and garlic. This pesto has nuts and a bit of heat from a jalapeño, and by itself is excellent tossed with hot pasta, adding a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if the sauce is too thick. Or chill the pasta and eat as a salad, or serve the pesto with grilled vegetables, fish, chicken, or meat. This is also good made with a combination of equal amounts of lacinato kale and arugula.
You Will Need
Spicy Walnut Arugula Pesto
Makes 1½ cups
To make the pesto, combine the arugula, basil, mint, walnuts, garlic, jalapeño, cheese, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well blended. Taste and add more olive oil, lemon juice, or salt, as needed. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the bread pudding, heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add the wine and simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and herbes de Provence, and season with salt and pepper; stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter the bottom of a 10-inch round or 9 by 13-inch baking dish that’s at least 2½ inches deep.
Line the baking dish with half of the bread slices, overlapping the slices slightly and cutting to fit as needed. Top with half of the tomato slices and lightly season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the prepared pesto over the tomatoes, then sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese, pressing down on the layers. Add the remaining layer of tomatoes, pesto, and shredded cheese. Pour the reserved onion and broth over the cheese. Cut the remaining bread slices into quarters and place over the onion. Gently press down on the bread with the back of a spatula or large spoon so that the liquid is evenly distributed. Top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake in the upper third of the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more, or until the top is browned and crisp and the insides are bubbling. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.