Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: The Occasional Recipe: Panzanella

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

The Occasional Recipe: Panzanella

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


In mid-summer it’s hard to avoid coming home from the farm markets without too much of something that looked delicious. My downfall is tomatoes. Off-season I don’t buy fresh tomatoes: the world is too filled with heartbreak as it is. So during the summer I tend to go a little overboard. Ok, a lot overboard.

On this particular day I had beautiful ripe tomatoes and was thinking of panzanella, that summery Italian bread salad. It seemed easy enough...some tomatoes...some bread...olive oil.....let’s see.  I looked through my three shelves of cookbooks: nothing. (Really, “Nigellissima”?? Really, “VB6”??) I looked online: too much. Too many ingredients, serving too many people. Maybe in the summer you’re always suppose to be cooking for a crowd. Tonight I’m cooking for two. So, as often happens (admittedly, not always with marvelous results) I made up a recipe. And I’m sharing it with you as I made it. No specific amounts, no specific proportions--you’re in charge. I’m just telling you there are ripe tomatoes out there--go make panzanella.

What you need:
tomatoes
red onion
basil
cucumbers
dried cubes of French bread
olive oil
salt/pepper

I cut the tomatoes, bread, and cucumber in nice-size chunks; you can do the same depending on your idea of nice size. I cut some red onion in smaller pieces, because that’s what I prefer. I added a little olive oil and salt and pepper. I tore a bunch of basil leaves. Not “a bunch” as in what Whole Foods puts in a rubber band, but a “bunch” as in what my plants were offering and what I thought looked like a good amount.  I tossed it all and took a moment to enjoy how it reminded me of the Italian flag. And then I set it aside in a (non-metallic) bowl for a few hours. Do not refrigerate it. Refrigeration does terrible things to tomatoes.

At this very moment it is still in progress, the tomatoes’ juices and the olive oil doing their magic on the bread cubes. I plan to taste a little throughout the afternoon because the one amount I was unsure of was the olive oil. But I’m thinking this is going to be very good. And I’m hoping that if you find something that could make it better, you’ll let me know.

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1 Comments :

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My tomatoes are starting to come in and this sounds like a great idea, IF I can stop eating them with fresh mozzerella, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and just a pinch of sugar. And I agree with you about the heartbreak of winter 'tomatoes,' just not worth the disappointment. Bonnie B

August 14, 2013 at 1:10 PM  

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