Sunday, September 21, 2008

summer’s last hurrah panzanella

summer's last hurrah panzanella

In the last few days, New York City has gotten the most delicious nip to its breezes; drier air and clear skies have set in and despite that fact that I maintain that I don’t wish summer to end, it’s not holding up when I hit the Greenmarket and go a little berserk over apples and squash and things that have nothing to do with stone fruit. I’m a sucker for New York in the fall. It always wins.

leftover colwin bread cubes

Nevertheless, before I go whole-squash into the colder months, I had to have one last hurrah with summer before I admit that I’m finally no longer incessantly craving it, and there’s no better way to take in late-summer produce than with a panzanella. I’ve made this one before, but it was years ago, which means in Internet-speak, it’s probably dead to all of you and due for a revival.

panzanella pretty

I made it with a combination of colored peppers, big tomatoes and cubes of Laurie Colwin’s timetable-free whole wheat bread (because, as usual, I’d let it get stale before I responsibly packed it off to the freezer), but you can make it with anything you have on hand–heck, I’ve even seen it made with cornbread, and oh, did the thought of it make me drool. Let us know what you come up with in the comments.

summer's last hurrah panzanella

One year ago: Cream Cheese Noodle Kugel (stay tuned for an awesome update in the coming weeks!)

Two years ago: Artichoke Panzanella and Roasted Tomatoes and Cippoline Onions Over White Beans With Garlic-Rubbed Bread Cubes

Topic Index: I know that everyone wants to find old recipes in different ways. Some people like vast recipe indexes, others like search functions (top left!) and others like to read through months like a storybook. Well, I like visual aids, so this weekend I created some topic pages that filter the archives into recognizable, and somewhat seasonal groups. Want soup recipes? We’ve got a page for that. Apple recipes? We’re on it. Need a frosted and filled cake for your cousin’s birthday party? Bingo! View all of the topics from this link, now fourth down in the sidebar. Expect to see more topic archives built as themes emerge.

NYC Get-Together? Smitten Kitchen recently hit its second anniversary (though hopefully not the Terrible Twos) and a note from a reader got me wondering if it might be fun to look into some sort of get-together for peeps in the NYC-area that might want to say hi. However, I would never do such a thing in a coffee shop–how awkward, right? I prefer the idea of organizing an event around wine or food and I think I have a pretty cool idea, I would just need a rough estimate of how many of you out there would want to attend such a thing if your schedule permits. [Poll below, not viewable in RSS.]

Summer Panzanella
Adapted loosely from Ina Garten

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like to use a combination of purple or yellow or orange, to nicely colorize the dish)
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

2. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.

3. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

4. Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.


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