This bread salad is a little different from other bread salads we've made (and loved) in the past. It substitutes dark, sweet pumpernickel bread for the usual crusty Italian bread, and mixes it up with spicy watercress and mushrooms browned deeply with onions, garlic, wine and balsamic vinegar.
It's an unusual mix of ingredients, but we loved the way the unique flavors of watercress and pumpernickel played off each other, and how the toasted bread soaked up the juices of the mushrooms and wine.
Pumpernickel and Mushroom Bread Salad with Watercress
1 small bunch watercress 1/2 pound loaf of pumpernickel bread Olive oil Kosher salt and black pepper 1 cup white wine 1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms, chopped 2 tablespoons butter 8 ounces white mushrooms, washed and sliced 2 leeks or green Vidalia onions, sliced thin 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Heat the broiler. Wash the watercress and chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. Pat dry and put into a serving bowl.
Tear the loaf into chunks and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil until crispy and toasted. Set aside.
Heat the white wine to boiling in the microwave or in a small pan, and add the wild mushrooms. Boil until reconstituted - about five minutes.
In a heavy saute pan, heat the butter until foamy, then dump in the white mushrooms. Do not stir or shake the pan for several minutes; let the mushrooms get quite brown before tossing. Cook for several minutes after they get brown, then add the garlic and onions. Cook until softened and fragrant, then add the wild mushrooms and all the wine. Boil until it has reduced into a syrup, then add the vinegar, stir and take off the heat.
Pour over the watercress, and add the bread and toss. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.