Who knew? (Summer Panzanella)



Well, here I am. Living in a mountain town. Happy as a clam with endless possibilities for mountain rambling. Who would have predicted this twelve months ago? Not me. This wasn’t even in the realm of possible options until I was sad after not getting the job I thought I wanted and a good friend mentioned (thank goodness) she thought there might be something for me in this great little place. I am quite grateful for said tipsy conversation. Yet, a little surprised to find myself here! So far from home. During the move I realized how many other things exist in my life that my twenty-year old self would find completely perplexing. These include:

1) Living in a high rise brand new condo on a estuary zone full of semi-endangered birds I am probably killing off with all the off-gases from the new carpeting.

2) Owning a car that I drive even five minutes down the road in case I get paged.

3) Running, running, running. Running!

4) Voraciously eating pulled pork sandwiches, not just tofu burgers. (Squamish is rad- one week in and I am happy to report I’ve already found at least one bbq on the upper deck with friends i met this afternoon in the basement parking garage)

5) Paying my taxes, on time, to mr. harper and his friends who don’t love the environment -or most people for that matter- very much.

6) Owning an electronic key fob attached to an underground parking garage. A key fob!

Funny how things change.

Bread salad with the first of the real tomatoes always reminds me of fleeting shifting time. Like lake swimming and warm nights on the porch, it’s really only good for a short period each year. Panzanella is simple, and is best with fresh tomatoes, bright garlic scapes, and crusty bread left over from a summer picnic. Its easy, but don’t scimp on poor quality produce. I love it with roast chicken, but it also makes for a fantastic lunch on its own. This version is one scrabbled from the fridge, and it worked so well I thought I would share it with you. (And, unlike your idealism from your early twenties, you can come back to it time and time again with familiarity vs: surprise!).

Summer bread Salad

Kitchen Sink Bread Salad/Tomato Panzanella

Ingredients (for 1-2 people):

2 pieces of crusty bread (GF ok)
Three tomatoes, fresh and grown close to home
Garlic Scape
3-4 Mint leaves and small handful of fresh basil
1-2 radishes
1 piece of asparagus
1-2 leaves of kale or swiss chard
Hunk of soft chevre or feta
Glug of olive oil
Splash of lemon
Small splash of balsamic
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

The method for this is easy: I made it all, including the dressing, in the dish I ate it in.

1) Make croutons

Break the bread into bite size chunks and toss in a bowl with a glug of olive oil and a bit of salt. Place on an oven sheet and broil until nice and crunchy and brown. Set aside. (In a hurry, I’ve been known to toast in the toaster, but its better to have nice big chunks and do it the technical way).

2)Make the dressing

Mix together the olive oil, lemon, and balsamic vinegar in the bottom of the serving bowl.

3) Cut up the vegetables

Cut the tomatoes into chunks, the radish into thin slivers, and the raw asparagus into bite size pieces if you are using it. Chop the garlic scape finely. Slice the greens into thin strips and mash them around on the cutting board for a minute to loosen them up and make them more enjoyable for raw consumption. Cut up the basil and mint into thin pieces.

4) Mix together

Add the croutons and the vegetable mixture to the dressing and mix around. Add more vinegar, oil, and salt/pepper to taste. When its perfect, sprinkle the feta or chevre on top with more basil so it looks pretty.

Serve on its own (I ate mine on my lap on the windy porch with some leftover semi-warm wheat-beer), or with roast chicken or smoked tofu.

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