Posts Tagged ‘salad’

Panzanella for the Dog Days of Summer

We’re in it, people. The dog days of summer are just about here. (Oh man, now I have that Florence and the Machine song stuck in my head. You’re welcome.) It’s when you can’t fathom turning on the stove and cooking over fire in 90 degree temperatures (i.e. grilling) seems like someone else’s idea of crazy. It’s when your body requires an arsenal of salads to hydrate, nourish and sustain you.

I present you with dinner one night this week: Italian bread salad, or panzanella. The point here is rustic simplicity; irregularities are happily part of the deal. Some people add red wine vinegar. Some don’t. Some do other things with olive oil, adding more. I like how straightforward this is, so I’m sticking with it. I bought just about all of these ingredients at the farmers’ market on Saturday, with the exception of the bread; I grabbed a half-loaf of Italian bread from Wegmans, because I couldn’t bear to sacrifice the sesame epi from Apple Ridge Farm to this cause. Of course, if you have stale bread, this works even better—it’s one of those old-school efficient recipes, reminding us that a bread that’s lost some moisture hasn’t yet lost its call of duty in the kitchen.

One last thing. This recipe is written on behalf of this week’s Easton Farmers’ Market Fresh Finds Market Tour. The theme? Summer salads. You want more? Come take my tour on Wednesday, August 6 at 6:30 in Center Square, Easton.


Serves 4-6 as main course or 6-8 as a side, depending on appetite

  • 3-4 medium to large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 4-6 slices of good country Italian bread, or any thick rustic loaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1-2 T. olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 cups cucumbers, peeled, seeded* and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks (*peeling and seeding are optional; if you’re buying organic, there’s no need to peel and seeds do not offend me)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup basil


  1. Combine the tomatoes and kosher salt in a large bowl, and then place the tomatoes in a fine mesh sieve and set them back over the bowl to drain for 1/2 hour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Smash the clove of garlic with the side of a chef’s knife against a cutting board and add the clove to the pan. Add the cubes of bread and toast them, turning periodically, 3-4 minutes. Alternately, you can toast the slices or put them under a broiler for a few minutes, and then cut them once they’ve cooled.
  3. Combine the chopped cucumbers and onion in a separate medium bowl.
  4. Discard the tomato juice and return the tomatoes to the bowl. Add the basil and bread cubes, and stir gently to combine. Allow this to sit for 10-15 minutes so the flavors can combine and the bread softens a little bit. Add in the bowl of cukes and onion and serve immediately.

If for some reason you have leftovers, this will keep for about a day in the fridge, but not much more. The bread is going to be soggy, tomatoes get watery and die in the fridge. You might consider sprucing it up a little if you have any more stale slices that need a job.


08 2014

The Greenest Goddess Dressing

It’s spring. Things are greening, finally. Greens galore are here at farmers’ markets in Pennsylvania. We’ll have to wait for the rest (radishes, herbs, beets, carrots and potatoes, etc.) until it warms up a bit. But for now, we have our pick of greens.

A couple of weeks ago, tired of the usual variations on oil and vinegar, I hacked a green goddess dressing. I received some “recipe please!!” comments after posting a pic on Instagram where it was adorning some quasi-grilled romaine (another story altogether; the gas ran out mid-char). So, I figured I’d return to this project. Green goddess goes all the way back to the 1920s and had a good run in the 1970s-80s, but is experiencing something of a resurgence right now—with some twists, of course. You typically see it with cobb salads and others with sturdy greens that can withstand a substantive dressing and whose leaves provide all sorts of crevices and crannies for the dressing to adhere to. It would also work well as a veggie or pita chip dip or as the binding agent for some manner of tuna or chicken salad, should you wanna roll that way, too.

The modern versions, like this one, often include heart-healthy avocado; classic elements typically feature anchovies, fresh spring herbs, mayo, sour cream, and lemon juice. (I think I even recently saw a twist on this with pureed green peas.) They don’t typically include water or olive oil, but I found I needed both. By design, this recipe includes the minimum amount of mayo required before it got too gloppy and mayo-ey (plus olive oil lends some fresh zip and helps with emulsifying). And I had an avocado just this side of perfectly ripe and smushy, so the little bit of water helped. But as you can see, I didn’t make it completely smooth, mostly because I was scrambling to get dinner on the table to several hungry and really tired campers. Sometimes aesthetics go out the window. If I had had more time, I would have snipped off some chives from the yard or the tops of green onions for a little more bite. In fact, why don’t you do that and let me know what you think?


  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1/4 cup organic mayo (homemade or otherwise)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large handful parsley (about a 1 cup, stems included)
  • Several pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and let ‘er rip. You should get about 3/4 cup of dressing, which you can keep stored in the fridge in a sealed container and it should be good for about a week.

Sunday involved yoga, a great big brunch at a friend’s house with park time, and an afternoon surprise event involving a swarm of bees in the yard that required emergency rescue and relocation. All of a sudden, it was 6 o’clock and there was no acceptable dinner plan. So, last night’s dinner wound up being two take-out pizzas from Sette Luna with a salad I threw together of fresh local spinach from Jett’s Produce and not quite baby lacinato kale. The farmer I bought it from, Tom Murtha of Blooming Glen, called it “teenager kale” because it was not the full, frondy lacinato kale we know, nor was it baby kale, whose smaller leaves are sweet and typically tricky to find. They both served as willing recipients of the 2-3 tablespoons of dressing I used here.

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05 2014