Man, I love summer. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much of it this year in my corner of France. My family came to visit recently and the first week was spent toting umbrellas and tightly tying scarves around our necks to keep the chill out. Luckily, the last week or so was amazing, culminating with the hottest and sunniest day of the year on my birthday.
It looks like that’s all over now, but I can’t stop myself from whipping up typically summer-friendly recipes that involve fresh, ripe produce and minimal cooking. I also can’t stop wearing summer dresses, even though technically it’s cold outside. I think I’ll just ignore those goosebumps for now, and keep on pretending like it’s still summer.
This panzanella is amazing. I had half of a baguette left at my house that I found when we got back from my birthday celebration at the beach. It was really, really, really stale. Luckily I had the time to read my latest issue of Bon Appétit on the car ride home, and knew exactly what to do with it. We also happened to have some very ripe tomatoes and some cucumbers and peppers that desperately needed to be eaten. And so it began!
Fresh panzanella (Italian tomato and bread salad)
Adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2012
6 medium-sized tomatoes (I used black Crimée tomatoes)
2 T red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 smallish shallot, minced
1/4 C olive oil
1 bell pepper, charred and sliced (seeds removed, of course. The skin is your call. I like to leave it on!)
1/2 – 1 loaf of stale bread
1/2 t cayenne or espelette pepper
2 T capers
1/4 C basil, torn
1/2 C corn
1 cucumber, seeds removed and thinly sliced
Begin by boiling some water to blanch your tomatoes with and cutting your bread up into cubes. Cut a small X onto the bottom of each tomato, and once boiling, drop them in for about thirty seconds, or until the skin starts to lift up. Put them into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. You can also prepare all of the other ingredients now while you wait for them to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes (cut in half), shallots, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Using your hands, break the tomatoes up into pieces and mash everything together. Season with salt and pepper, and then add the bread. Stir to coat and submerge all the bread into your tomato sauce. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes before adding the rest of your ingredients. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!