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Posts Tagged ‘panzanella’

I love summer meals. Cool, refreshing, and nonchalant; celebrating the spontaneous combination of any variety of flavors without a clash because everything is fresh, fresh, fresh.  Tonight in Vermont, I threw together a meal every ingredient of which was local, (with the allowable exceptions of a lemon, an orange, Kalamata olives, some Spanish olive oil, salt and pepper, and a pinch each of cumin and coriander–Mediterranean items that don’t grow in these here parts).


Here are the elements of the meal:

> a cold bean salad with two varieties of heirloom beans grown by Killdeer Farm, here in Norwich, fennel, orange segments, radicchio, olive oil, and herbs from my mom’s herb garden.

> panzanella: tomatoes, a stale baguette, fresh mozzarella, garlic, chives, olives, backyard basil.

> cold grilled chicken.

> corn on the cob, picked this morning and as sweet as dessert.

> grilled heirloom eggplant, summer squash, and zucchini from the neighbors’ garden.

> a Lebanese-style yogurt sauce for the grilled veggies and chicken.

> (and for Jack, the above, plus Vermont cheddar, a glass of Strafford Creamery milk, and local carrots and sugar snap peas.)

The best supporting actor award in this meal goes to the yogurt sauce, which I hadn’t made before, but which will now be my default leftover-chicken-jazzer-up.

Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
juice of 1/4 lemon
pinches of salt, ground coriander and ground cumin (best if you use seeds ground with a          mortar and pestle)
4 mint leaves, minced
small bunch chives, minced
1 tbs. parsley, minced

Stir it all up and adjust the seasonings to taste.

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Mmmm… I have such a craving for a luscious tomato tart.  Roasting brings out such intense flavors.  And melted cheese: the deliciousness of the thought speaks for itself.

However, it’s pushing 90 today, and I won’t be turning on the oven.  How to celebrate high tomato season with something a little simpler, more “rustic” and conducive to lazing around than the pretty spiral of tomato, mozz, and basil (though I have nothing against that salad!)?

Panzanella!  A bread salad made with summer’s basics: stale bread, tomatoes, basil.

panz ingreds

The structure of this basic flavor combination provides a strong background for additions, if they come in as accents.  Have some leftover anchovies or olives?  A wedge of lemon?  Toss in a few capers, too, from that bottle that always seems full.  Some other backyard herbs would be nice too, as long as the basil sets the tone.

We’ll have this tonight, with grilled chicken.  Killdeer folks: see you soon.

For the cooler nights later this week, though, I’ll be turning to the tart.  I think I’ll try this recipe, recently posted in the Times.

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