Monday, June 16, 2014

Meatless Monday
Farmers Market Favorites: Panzanella




I begin the week with the best of intentions.

But, as is often the case, the best laid plans of mice and men........

Well, what I mean is, I begin the week with a meal plan, and midweek, the meal plan is a relic of the past. And the purchases I made on the weekend, await their turn to appear on my plate, yet go neglected.  

Such is often the case with the beautiful baguette. Whether it's home-baked or bought, I can never finish it when it's at it's peak of freshness. 

And it goes stale. Which seems a tragedy. Unless you're Italian.

Now, full disclosure here-- I'm not Italian. But I can darn sure eat like one.

What does being Italian have to do with stale bread, you ask?  Well, those Italian cooks are a thrifty lot. Nothing goes to waste. Which brings us to the stale bread, and today's meatless feast--

Y'all.  This is just easy. There's no real recipe for this just-off-traditional take on the Tuscan classic, but I'll come as close as possible to some semblance of one for the sake of those who'd like some direction.


I prepared this salad recently at the local farmers' market as a bit of a challenge. With no plans at all, I arrived at the market and shopped the vendors, finding the freshest, peak-of-the-season produce, and adding in ingredients which could all be found at the market. At the Cedar Park and Mueller Farmers' Markets in Austin, this included the bread, herbs, cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. A bit of a 'market bounty challenge', if you will.

Ingredients

Bread: It can be fresh, but day old is better. Baguette, ciabatta, boule-- anything with a little body to it. Brioche? No. Sliced white bread? No. Not even whole wheat. No sandwich bread. None.
--Tear into small bites (they will absorb the juices and 'bloom', so keep them even smaller than you'd think-- about 1 inch cubes or smaller). Our small baguette begat (see what I did there?) about 4 cups of cubes, which should feed a small army, about 4 people, for an entree.

A little olive oil, a little garlic, a little herbes de provence (or whatever favorite dried, or even fresh herbs you have around).

Seasonal Vegetables: We used what is seasonal in Central Texas right now-- tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, 1015's (the Texas version of a sweet onion that also come in varieties such as Noonday, or Vidalia) and for a refreshing, tangy green kick, we tossed in some sorrel, thinly shredded. You'll want at least equal the amount vegetable to bread. I like a 2:1 ratio of vegetables to bread, ultimately. And though you can make this salad in any season, I don't even bother if fresh tomatoes aren't available. Tomatoes are key, in my mind.

We used about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, and the zest of a whole lemon to dress the cut vegetables.

Note: This may seem like it's heavily seasoned. I mean a tablespoon of dried herbs is a LOT. But remember, this is BREAD. And it's soaking up the flavor. Don't skimp!


1. Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and shred the sorrel, finely. Reserve the sorrel.
2. Toss vegetables with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste.
3. Cover the bottom of a heavy skillet with a thin layer of olive oil. Brown a crushed clove of garlic or two, add the tablespoon or so of dried herbs, add torn bread cubes, toss, and toast.
4. When lightly toasted, add sorrel to the bread cubes and toss, and allow to wilt in the pan, still on the heat.
5. Add vegetables in vinegar/lemon juice mixture to the pan, tossing well. Remove from heat and allow bread to marry with the dressed vegetables at least 10 minutes prior to serving.
6. Optional: Top with crumbled soft cheese (we used Pure Luck Dairy's goat feta).

And enjoy!



10 comments:

  1. Love me a good panzanella, and these pics make me want it even more. Yum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, thank you! This time of year, it's so easy to throw together with things straight from the garden/market! I love JUNE!

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  2. It was delicious and thanks for this post, Maggie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for having me, Carla. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the market!

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  3. Maggie, this looks so delicious! Since I became vegan, I've had a hard time coming up with "meals". I've had a hard time adopting the idea that meals can be smaller + pieced together, instead of the typical 'meat / vegetable / starch' meal that we have. This is a perfect example of a great meal idea... thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caitlin, I'm so glad you found inspiration in this. Many, if not most, of my summer meals and recipes are meatless, and these one dish entrees are my mainstay, and I find it easier to eat meat-free when I'm just tossing things together, rather than rely on the traditional meat/side/starch plate.

      Thanks so much for dropping by!

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  4. I'm not keen on salads but these look so refreshing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Linda-girl! You will eat salad and you will LIKE IT.

      hehehe

      Okay, eat ice cream. And come back and make me smile, often.

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  5. Anonymous06 July, 2014

    I usually make a trip to Mandola's for their Sicilian tomato salad, but this sounds like an excellent home made version. Now that I'm looking for low-FODMAP ideas, I think I can adapt this recipe using gluten-free bread and leaving out the onions & using garlic-infused oil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am amazed with the gluten-free bread available these days. I know that several vendors at the farmers market offer loaves, and I might just have to bake some, myself, soon. Thanks for dropping by!

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