August 11, 2011
Meatless Meals: Panzanella
You guys are so wonderful too me. You ask me to post more of my recipes (in your survey responses...have you taken the survey yet? Do it!), without knowing the honest to goodness truth that I don't really have any recipes. Mostly, I default. It's summertime, there are tomatoes. Then I shall not-cook something with tomatoes.
So last night I made a panzanella. And forgot to take a photo. But here's a gorgeous photo (above) and a pretty good recipe from Gourmet. It doesn't use pesto though, and pesto is, to me, the essential ingredient in a panzanella (you know, besides the bread...and tomatoes.)
The basic idea of a panzanella is the same as with a salad--only instead of using lettuce, you use toasted bread. You must find a good bread for this. I like to use olive bread, but any sort of crispy crust loaf will do: sourdough, multigrain, ciabatta, baguette. Adjust your flavors according to the bread, and the season. A sourdough will taste amazing with spring vegetables (like in this recipe from Smitten Kitchen). And sweet, dense multigrain will balance squash, shaved fennel, bacon, and apples.
You grill the bread, or broil it, and then toss it with your veg, cheese, and dressing. Or, in my case, pesto. The pesto really transforms everything. I cannot speak highly enough. (Oh, and Savuer has some stunning pesto variations, that would be so good in, well, basically anything, but especially here.) I made a straight Pesto Genovese last night, but the time before that I made a pesto our of English sorrel and garlic scapes. (For most of my thoughts on pesto: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5.)
First we make the pesto. Pick a recipe from above.
Mince two garlic cloves, and put them in a skillet with some olive oil over medium heat. Add one bag of frozen artichoke hearts, and a splash of white vermouth, and allow to simmer till the liquid burns away.
While that is cooking away happily, take 1/2 a loaf of crusty bread, and cut into bite size chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, and broil until toasted. Timing will vary greatly based on your broiler. If you are one of those lucky ones with a grill, you can keep the slices large, and grill, allow to cool, and then chunk up with a knife. (This can also be done in a toaster oven, but I don't recommend a regular toaster.)
Meanwhile, assemble the rest of the veg. Halve cherry tomatoes. Thinly slice red onion. Drain capers and kalamata olives (if pitted, you can slice the olives.) Slice a slab of feta into small chunks. Place all these in a wide shallow bowl with the artichoke hearts. Drizzle over them half the pesto, and toss. Throw in the bread, and toss, adding more pesto as necessary. And it will be necessary.