JESSICA KARLEY: Try light, airy panko bread crumbs for your Easter sides

"Panko" is a term that, thanks to a friend from Japan, I learned simply means bread crumbs in Japanese. In the United States, the term refers to a particular type of bread crumb.

Jessica Karley
Jessica Karley, author of Everyday Gourmet

"Panko" is a term that, thanks to a friend from Japan, I learned simply means bread crumbs in Japanese. In the United States, the term refers to a particular type of bread crumb.

Panko bread crumbs are light and airy with a jagged shape which helps ensure the food stays crispy longer. Most major grocery stores have embraced this trend and now stock them, but if you're unable to find them at your local grocery store, try looking at an Asian food market or you can use regular bread crumbs, but the end result won't be as crispy.

With Easter just around the corner, my family was recently assigned the dishes to bring for dinner. This year, I was excited to hear that I'm responsible for the salad course. I already know what I am bringing.

This recipe for Warm Baked Goat Cheese Salad is perfect. It's great for special occasions all year around, especially for those days when you're craving a summer salad, but your thermometer reads subzero temperatures. The warm, tangy cheese with a light and crispy coating is a perfect contrast to the sweet, chewy cherries and cool, baby greens.

When serving this for a crowd, the cheese rounds can be marinated and breaded ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to bake them. Then, just pop the sheet tray in the oven, wait 15 minutes and you have one impressive and easy salad.


Another use for panko

Now, that you may consider adding panko bread crumbs to your pantry, I offer you another delicious reason to use them: Cod Bites with Homemade Lemon Chili Tartar Sauce.

They're perfectly delicious to serve to adults, but I started making them because I was looking for different foods to cook for my son. He really enjoys helping me and I love knowing he's getting "real food" to eat and also learning a valuable life skill in the kitchen.

This recipe calls for a "breading station," made up of three bowls (or containers) set in a row on your counter. Fill the first bowl with flour, seasoned with salt and pepper. Fill the second bowl with egg or egg wash, depending on how heavy the breading is going to be. (The heavier the egg, the heavier the breading.) Fill the third bowl with a seasoned bread crumb mixture.

Breading is a great way to get children involved. My son is 2½, so I can't really trust him with anything too difficult, but it's amazing what he can do if you have patience and find the right task.

I know he can't judge if the nuggets have the right amount of egg or the proper amount of crumb coating, but I know he can make sure every piece of cod is rolled in the flour. He gives me the fish pieces after he's done gently (and sometimes not so gently) tossing them in the flour bowl. I then make sure the pieces make it through the rest of the breading process. I also let him arrange them on the pan. Sometimes, I find the chef/mom in me wants to take over and do it for him so that we can hurry, get it done "right," or so that we won't make too much of a mess, but then again, messes can always be cleaned up.

One trick for helping with a toddler mess, or a mess of your own, is to cover your counter top with a few overlapping strips of plastic wrap. Then, when you're done with the preparations, roll it up and, ta-da! (As my son says) You have a clean counter again. Unfortunately, I don't have a magical cure for crumbs that find their way to the floor, other than to allow your dog in the kitchen or to also teach your child another life skill .... vacuuming!

Goat Cheese with Spring Greens, Balsamic and Dried Cherries


1½ cups olive oil

2 tablespoon minced garlic, fresh

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

8 ounces log-style goat cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs, plain

½ teaspoon kosher salt


½ teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked

¼ cup parsley, fresh chopped

2-4 cups spring mix, or any colorful blend of tender lettuce

1/3 cup balsamic glaze (I used Gia Russa brand)

1/3 cup olive oil

½ cup dried cherries

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk olive oil, garlic, rosemary, red pepper, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside. Using a sharp knife, divide the log of goat cheese into eight 1-ounce sections. Lay gently in the oil mixture and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least one hour or as long as eight hours. In a small bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, kosher salt, pepper and parsley. Remove the cheese from the oil and dredge each piece, one at a time, in the bread crumb mixture, being sure to cover all sides. Place on a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Bake cheese for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crumb mixture turns a light golden brown. While the cheese is baking, set out the salad plate and place ½ to 1 cup of mixed greens on each one. Remove cheese from the oven and add it to the plate. Drizzle each salad with a little over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with dried cherries and enjoy. Serves: 4.

Cod Bites with Lemon Chili Tartar Sauce


12 ounces cod loin, cut into 1½ inch cubes

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked

½ cup liquid egg (I use this for simplicity, but you can also use 4 large eggs, beaten)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood Seasoning

¼ teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked


½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Lemon Chili Tartar Sauce

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon grated red onion

1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped

1 tablespoon pickle relish

1 teaspoon lemon zest


1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400. To set up your breading station, place the flour, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside. Place the egg into a second bowl and in a third bowl, combine bread crumbs, seafood seasoning, pepper, garlic powder and parmesan. Dredge each piece of cod in the flour, being sure to coat all sides. Dip cod into the egg, making sure it's well-coated. Let any excess egg drip off. Next, roll the cod piece into the panko mixture and cover all sides. Place the cod pieces onto a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat the process until all the cod is breaded. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the breading is golden brown and the fish feels firm to the touch. While the cod bites are baking, prepare the tartar sauce by whisking all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Remove the cod bites from the oven, serve with tartar sauce and enjoy. Serves 4

Karley can be reached at . Read her food blog at

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