Pretzanella: German Pretzel Salad

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We made it through the gloomy first month of the year and Winter is already half way over! To help you make it until Spring, I put all my creative juices to work to create today’s colorful Pretzanella recipe. A Pretzanella is a fun twist on the Italian Panzanella salad, which features lots of fresh veggies and soft baked pretzel bread (or Brezel bread) to soak up that yummy vinaigrette.

I braided my pretzel bread with Maille Old Style mustard and grated gouda cheese before letting it take a quick bath in a lye solution and sprinkling it with a variety of seeds. Incorporating Maille Old Style mustard, which is a whole grain mustard, creates pockets of flavor explosions that truly add another layer of sophistication to this rather simple dish. I love using Maille mustard for its authentic French flavor.

A LITTLE MUSTARD HISTORY FOR YOU
Monks in Paris actually adopted the mustard-making tradition from the Romans in the 13th century, which is when French mustard started becoming popular with its central hubs in Paris and Dijon. Maille is one of the most famous French mustard brands, and started production in Paris in 1747. Their mustards are some of the best quality available in the United States, and as a German, you can only guess how much I love my mustard!

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PRETZELS ARE BETTER WITH LYE
Using a lye solution to dip your loaf in before baking really brings out the perfect pretzel taste (it’s what all bakers in Germany use!), but you will need to follow these precautions very closely when using real lye:

You will NOT want to get in contact with the lye solution, so I would urge you to use food-safe rubber gloves when dipping the loaves.
Any utensils you use should not be wooden (steel utensils and bowl is best).
When preparing the solution, use cold water and ALWAYS add the lye slowly to the water, not the other way around.
I created a 4 percent solution, meaning I added 4 grams of lye to each 100 ml of water I used. For 1000 g or one liter of water, I used 40 grams of lye. A kitchen scale comes in handy here.

After baking, the loaf gets cut up into bite-sized cubes, and mingled with sliced cabbage, roasted fennel, bell pepper and red onion in an apricot mustard vinaigrette. Believe me, disguising chewy, soft pretzels in a nutrient-dense Winter salad is my approved way of having pretzels the guilt-free way. This salad is vegetarian as it is, but if you would like to add protein, grill up a few brats, cut them into bite-sized pieces and toss them into the salad for an additional layer of rustic, German flavor.

Pretzanella: German Pretzel Salad
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Recipe Type: Side
Serves: about 4 servings
Ingredients
For the pretzel bread (makes 2 loaves):
  • 4 c (500 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (7 g) dry yeast
  • 2.5 Tbsp (15 g) brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (30 g) butter
  • 2 tsp (10 g) salt
  • 1.7 oz (50 ml/g) warm water
  • 7.6 oz (225 ml/g) ice cold water
  • About 3 oz (85 g) Maille Old Style mustard
  • About 6 oz (170g g) grated Gouda cheese
  • Sprinkle with: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, pretzel salt
For lye solution (best to use a kitchen scale to measure):
  • 1000 ml (1000 g or 33.8 oz) water
  • 40 g (1.41 oz) lye
For salad:
  • 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ head of white cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, ends trimmed
For vinaigrette:
  • ½ c good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Maille Old Style mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 shallot, peeled and small diced
  • 1 tsp dried Herbs the Provence
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
Instructions
  1. To make your pretzel bread, combine brown sugar, dry yeast and warm water and allow to sit for 5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate and bubble.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sifted flour, salt, room temperature butter (heat for a few seconds in microwave if too cold) with the yeast mixture. Then add ice cold water and knead for 8 to 10 minutes or until you achieve a smooth, elastic dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size. You can also prepare the dough the night before and keep it in the fridge.
  4. When ready to start working with the dough, preheat your oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit or 220 degrees Celsius.
  5. On a flour dusted surface, roll out the dough to a rectangular shape and approximate proportions of 2 to 1. Cut into 4 strips length wise (I use a pizza cutter).
  6. In the middle of each strip, distribute some Maille Old Style mustard using a spoon. Top off with the grated Gouda cheese. Then brush water onto the dough surrounding the mustard-cheese and fold the dough over the filling, first sealing it (the water helps make it stick), then rolling it over itself to form four stuffed logs.
  7. Cross 2 stuffed logs half way, then start braiding the loaves and fold under at the end.
  8. Prepare your lye solution, making sure to follow the important guidelines I mentioned above.
  9. Carefully, wearing rubber gloves and using 2 utensils (ideally 2 steel skimmers, but I used a skimmer and a spatula), lift one of the loaves off the floured surface and submerge in the lye solution for about 10 seconds. Carefully remove the loaf with the utensils and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes on the middle rack. Allow to cool before cubing for the salad.
  10. Cut the trimmed fennel bulbs in half, place on a sheet pan covered with some aluminum foil, sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
  11. Toss all prepared vegetables in vinaigrette, arrange on a plate and place a half of each roasted fennel bulb on top, then top off with pretzel cubes. Guten Appetit!

 


Sophie Sadler

Sophie Sadler

I'm Sophie and I'm German. When I first moved to the United States in 2009, I felt very deprived of the German way of eating. To this date, I still miss German cake and coffee time at 3 p.m., so I decided to educate my fellow American friends by writing about German customs and food… which of course involves a ton of cooking, converting of grams to ounces and cups, and drinking of Paulaner Hefeweizen!

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