This twist on a Vegan Panzanella Salad is packed with protein from the lentils, and paired with a delicious mustardy vinaigrette!
The weird thing about having your own blog is that you’re so hyper-aware of your own stuff… you assume that any little change or difference will be noticed and commented upon. Well, maybe you don’t think that way and it’s just me. But after having blogged here at W+F for almost six months now, I’m really starting to figure out which direction I want to go in, and the type of content I want to create.
I suppose it all goes back to my roots growing up. My parents aren’t very culinarily adventurous, so when I went vegetarian, I was forced to learn how to cook for myself. And then I really credit Eddie’s Million Dollar Cookoff (a Disney channel movie, of all things) for my “higher” culinary awakening, if you will – into the world of haute cuisine. In college I considered myself a “foodie” and was into the whole wine + cheese boards thing. I watched Iron Chef America on repeat, read Julia Child, took cooking and wine tasting classes when I studied abroad in France, and actually compiled my own culinary dictionary containing over 400 terms I had come across in my studies. Then, through many channels, I was rudely awakened into the sad, inhumane, and inhuman – in every sense of the word – world of factory farming.
Now, in my past life as a non-vegan, I had this mental image of vegan food as being just plain rice and steamed broccoli – bland, boring, and devoid of flavor. But, as Jackie (aka The Beeroness) has so cleverly said, “If you can’t cook a vegan meal that you love, you just aren’t that good of cook.” TRUTH BOMB. And yes, I get the arguments that butter and cheese are delicious. But if they’re the primary things you’re relying on for flavor, you’re doing flavors wrong. It was a lesson I had yet to learn.
The message I want to send out through this space is that vegan food is just, after all, food – and it can be as good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, and amazing as non-vegan food. I want to focus more on the quality and experience of my recipes, instead of fitting into this image of a super-health-focused blogger I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong, I will still be creating recipes that are healthy. But I remember at the time I was creating my blog, I was following all these raw vegan and health-focused Instagrammers who were posting beautiful photos of banana ice cream bowls and raw plates and grain-free everything. And all of that is great and I love raw foods, but that lifestyle is not indicative of me. I’d be lying if I said I ate super “healthy” all the time. I grew up with an Italian mother, so I’m used to pastas, sauces, pestos, olive oil, and lots of bread. My father’s side is Scottish and English, so we eat a lot of potatoes on that end. And then my favorite non-heritage-related cuisines include Japanese, Mexican, and French. I just love delving into different cultures and cuisines – in my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to learn about another culture. Every culture in the world has their own ingredients, dishes, spice blends, techniques – and I just want to soak it all in.
As I’m writing this, I’m really kicking myself for the sort of mental roadblocks I set up for myself. I guess I saw all of the successful health bloggers / Instagrammers and thought that their style was the best way to go. But as successful as those people are, they are not me, and I am not them. I can only be true to myself, and I was kind of afraid to do that before. (If I use pasta in this recipe, all of the gluten-free people won’t like W+F anymore! This recipe takes more than 20 minutes, nobody’s going to want to make this! Nobody in their right mind wants to hand-roll gnocchi!!) But those fears were honestly just silly. Regardless of whether there’s a “market” for these sort of recipes, that’s the type of food I love, so why not pursue it with all my heart? Ultimately, I want Well and Full to be about delicious flavors, inspired by cuisines near and far, that are impressive and well-balanced but still unassuming and approachable – with the occasional comfort recipe inspired by home or a hippie-dip dish that I love!!
It’s funny that my tag line has been “Adventures in a plant-based kitchen” from the get-go, because I feel like I’m only now living up to that credo. Even if you can’t travel physically, experiencing other cultures through food is such an amazing adventure! And at the risk of sounding like a huge goober, I hope y’all will join me for the ride!
Lentil Panzanella w/ Herbed Thyme Dijon Dressing
- 3/4 Cup Green Lentils
- 3 Cups Water to cook
- 2 Cups Ezekiel Bread or other hearty bread, torn into small-ish pieces
- Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pinch of Sea Salt + Pepper
- Fresh Arugula
Herbed Thyme Dijon Dressing
- 1 Clove Garlic minced
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- Juice from 1/2 - 1 Lemon to taste
- A little zest from the lemon
- 2 Tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves packed
- 3 Tsp Fresh Parsley Leaves packed
- 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt or more to taste
- 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper or more to taste
- 1 Tbs Water to thin
- To start, bring 3 cups water to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Add lentils and cook uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are chewable but still have a bit of "bite". When done, rinse lentils with cool water and drain. Set aside for later.
- To make panzanella croutons, break your bread into small pieces, about an inch thick. You can use a knife but the traditional way is to break the bread by hand! I used two slices of Ezekiel bread and that turned out to be about 2 cups, when broken.
- Bring a pan to medium heat. Drizzle pan with a generous glug of olive oil. Add in bread pieces and cook, tossing frequently, until bread starts to become toasty and brown, about 5-10 minutes depending on how hot your pan is.
- When panzanella bread is done, toss in a bowl with a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Set aside.
- To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high until herbs are fully emulsified and the dressing is smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- To make the salad, toss a few handfuls of fresh arugula, lentils, panzanella bread, and dressing in a bowl until evenly mixed.
Song of the Day:
Sympathique – Pink Martini
Ana @ The Awesome GreenSeptember 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm
Those blogger thoughts sound so familiar, and the feeling that anything you do will be noticed instantly :) Blogging is growing so fast, there are so many wonderful things happening in this health foodie world that you can’t make a difference but by being you and cooking what you actually love. Your new photo style is awesome ;)
SarahSeptember 29, 2015 at 6:52 pm
Thank you so much Ana!! I really appreciate your note :)
Rebecca @ Strength and SunshineSeptember 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm
It is just food. A recipe shouldn’t be labeled as “vegan”, it’s just …food. It kills me when I get comments on my blog with readers saying, “We don’t eat glutenfree (vegan, etc), but this looks good, I might try it”…..like…duh? It’s just food! Hahahahaha!
SarahSeptember 29, 2015 at 6:52 pm
Haha that’s crazy!! I don’t have any dietary restrictions regarding gluten but I eat that way anyways because I love the foods! For example, I find brown rice tortillas to be way better than regular flour!!
AlenaSeptember 29, 2015 at 9:26 pm
Amen I can SO identify with this. It’s so hard not to compare yourself to other bloggers or try to figure out which bucket you fit into in the blogging world and what you “can’t” and “should’t” do… I’m definitely not perfect and still have my moments where I think, “if I post this, will some people be turned off?” But I’m aware of it and think that I’m much better than when I started :).
Keep up the great work!! :)
SarahSeptember 30, 2015 at 7:52 am
Thank you so much for your note, Alena!! It’s reassuring to know that other people have thought the same thing about their place in the blogging world. <3
Abby @ The Frosted VeganSeptember 29, 2015 at 10:28 pm
I feel this all the time too, so know you are not alone! I think I remember having the thoughts of ‘this ingredient is weird, no one will want to read about this!’ or ‘who is actually going to want to make this if it isn’t amazin-low fat-10 minutes- no bake- gluten free-vegan-super healthy and is sprinkled with fairy dust’. I read once ‘by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one’. Keep doing the great work you are doing girl, it’s off to an amazing start!
SarahSeptember 30, 2015 at 7:53 am
Hahahaha “amazing-low fat-10 minutes- no bake- gluten free-vegan-super healthy and is sprinkled with fairy dust”!!! So like, apple slices? ;)
Hannah | The Swirling SpoonSeptember 29, 2015 at 11:46 pm
I love that quote! I’m definitely going to keep that in mind with my cooking :) and I’m so glad you feel like you’re finding your approach when it comes to your recipes. I feel like just making the things that are tasty and that you love to eat will organically result in a unique style over time. And just being true to yourself makes you a cooler blogger and will motivate you to continue to blog (by “you” I guess I mean all of us, really!)
SarahSeptember 30, 2015 at 7:55 am
I like the word you used to describe finding your unique style, i.e. “organically” – I think that’s a good way to look at it. Trying to hard to figure out what your style is kind of forces your hand a bit. Seeing how it happens organically is the best way to go ;)
Lade'September 30, 2015 at 11:54 am
I love the fact that you are being true to yourself with so many blogs out there it may easy to slip through the cracks. Your words about your parents are powerful and I totally relate. Keep going but most importantly thanks for sharing.
SarahSeptember 30, 2015 at 1:20 pm
Thanks I really appreciate it :)
Alaina @ The Simple PeachSeptember 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm
This looks beautiful! Lentils rock. It makes me sad so many people don’t know what they are or how to eat them. Yay for plants! Do you and the rest of the universe will work it self out.
SarahSeptember 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm
Thanks Alaina :D
Kathryn @ The Scratch ArtistSeptember 30, 2015 at 2:02 pm
I’m in for the ride Sarah (I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a huge goober haha!) Insightful and wonderful post! Do your thing. You’re the only one who can and that’s what makes it so valuable. xoxo
SarahSeptember 30, 2015 at 2:27 pm
Thanks Kathryn :) You da best ;)
Maya | Spice + SproutSeptember 30, 2015 at 8:11 pm
Sarah! I totally understand. I feel that way especially about photographs. I am still working out my style but you end up having to work those things out in a space where everyone can see them. It’s both scary and vulnerable, but I think in the end a super valuable experience. It teaches you to stick to who you really are and make sure that you feel good about the stuff you’re putting out there because ultimately that is the most important thing! Speaking of photos yours are gorgeous <3 I am also along for the ride!
SarahOctober 1, 2015 at 7:34 am
Aww thanks Maya :) :) But you’re right, it is a very vulnerable thing!! I know we blog out of our own volition, but putting something out there that we’ve worked on for so long is a bit scary!
Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir.comSeptember 30, 2015 at 9:34 pm
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! And I love that the panzanella is made from Ezekial. A nutritious meal at its best.
SarahOctober 1, 2015 at 7:33 am
Ezekiel bread is my favorite!!! :D
Alison @Food by MarsSeptember 30, 2015 at 10:35 pm
I love the addition of the lentils… so delicate and beautiful!!
SarahOctober 1, 2015 at 7:32 am
Thanks Alison!! :D
Danielle + Rooting The SunOctober 1, 2015 at 12:11 am
Sarah I truly love your voice, photography, and recipes (speaking of – – lentil panzanella? how intelligently delicious!). I recall the first recipe I found when I landed on your blog – those stunning purple cabbage tacos. ♥ Being a recent blogger myself, my eyes are slowly opening to the vastness of the scene, and all that is involved to keep one of these things afloat. The line between wanting to appeal and staying true to yourself can be fine in your mind sometimes – but staying true will always win. Food is a celebration – it’s not worth it to lose sleep over whether or not our recipe will be deemed the healthiest by the healthiest. There is so much to absorb. I’m with you lovely lady, along for the goober ride.
SarahOctober 1, 2015 at 7:35 am
Thanks girl :)
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CaraOctober 1, 2015 at 8:27 pm
Loving your photography! :) And the drink parings you have been offering are a fun idea too!
SarahOctober 2, 2015 at 8:21 am
Thanks Cara! :D
KathrynOctober 2, 2015 at 9:43 am
I’m loving your blogging philosophy – I think it can take a while to find your niche and be true to yourself but it’s so important. There are so many hundreds of identical ‘healthy’ blogs out there but the blogs that I always return to are those where people’s personalities actually come through and I feel like they’re actually making food that they like to eat rather than posting yet another banana ice cream recipe because it’s what they think will get them the most ‘likes’ on instagram. So keep up the good work because you’ve definitely cracked it with your blog!
SarahOctober 2, 2015 at 10:11 am
I really appreciate your note, Kathryn. I also find myself going back to blogs where the author’s personality shines through. Banana ice cream is well and good, but feeling like you can connect with someone really makes an impression! Before your comment I never really thought about it quite like that though. :)
Amber | Quite Good FoodOctober 6, 2015 at 8:27 pm
I love the look of this recipe, and can so relate to all your words about blogging and finding your voice/style/approach. Had to laugh re the health food instagrammers, it can be a bit OTT huh!
SarahOctober 7, 2015 at 10:30 am
Hahaha it can be a little much sometimes. But the health instagrammers DO provide me with a lot of inspiration!! :D
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Jill Roberts @ WellnessGeekyDecember 26, 2017 at 9:26 am
This is absolutely magnificent, scrumptious, delicious, super yummy lentil panzanella. I’m also gonna pin this post on my Pinterest board my followers will love it. Thanks for sharing Sarah! Can i post it on my blog?
SarahDecember 27, 2017 at 4:43 pm
I’m so glad you liked the recipe, Jill! Hearing a review like that makes my day! :) If you’re interested in sharing it on your blog, please feel free to use one photo and a clear link back to the recipe. Unfortunately I don’t allow recipes to be republished outside of here, for the sake of copyright and quality assurance. Please let me know if you have any further questions :)
Bella Hardy @ HealthnerdyJune 26, 2018 at 5:56 am
This lentil panzanella definitely looks yummy! I love your recipe cuz it contains healthy ingredients! Thanks a lot for sharing!
SarahJune 27, 2018 at 2:46 pm
Thanks so much for your kind words, Bella! :)
Robin Hamilton @Wellness WiresSeptember 27, 2018 at 4:10 am
That lentil panzanella looks so zesty and tasty! Absolutely love your creative idea! Thanks for sharing!
SarahSeptember 27, 2018 at 10:20 am
Thanks so much for your kind words! :)
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