Tag Archives: salads

Panzanella

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I ate my first panzanella salad while traveling through Tuscany with my mom several years ago.  We had rented a car in Pisa and were meandering our way through the rolling Italian hills covered with grape vines and olive groves when we realized that, even by European standards, it was long past lunch hour.  Restaurants were few and far between on this lonely stretch of road but we made a vow that we would stop at the every next place we came across and eat lunch.  Soon we came to the crest of a hill and saw a small stone restaurant literally perched on the edge of the road.  There was barely enough space to park our Fiat and with two wrought iron tables outside we wondered what we were getting into but we decided to try it anyway and we were so glad we did.  That simple lunch of panzanella salad and glasses of Chianti was the best meal we ate during our entire trip and I still think about it today.

Because panzanella has so few ingredients, it is important that they be of the freshest and best quality you can find.  Tomatoes and basil are in their prime here in the Mediterranean world during the summer so now is the perfect time to make this salad.  I’ve served it alongside grilled meats as a side dish but my favorite way to eat panzanella is the way I first experienced it:  as is with a glass of Chianti.

PANZANELLA

5 ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 English cucumbers, peeled, sliced, and sliced thinly

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

3/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

1 loaf Italian bread, or other crusty loaf; day old bread is preferable

  • Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and basil in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes.  Place half of the bread in a large shallow serving bowl.
  • Add half of the tomato mixture to the top of the bread then top with the remainder of the bread.
  • Layer the rest of the tomato mixture and all of the juices on top of the bread.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Toss the salad to combine all of the ingredients.  If the bread is still dry drizzle with additional olive oil.  Adjust the seasonings.

Serves:  8 as side salad or 4 as an entree

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Moroccan Carrot Salad

Fresh carrots ready for cooking

An invitation to a friend’s “Falafal-fest” made me think about what dish I could add- falafal, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and the like and needing something both easy and that I could find the ingredients to actually make, I settled on a carrot salad.   Fresh carrots are bountiful this time of year.  Besides, Sidney loves all things carrots and bringing a carrot dish would guarantee that there would be at least one dish that my sporadically finicky toddler would eat.

I couldn’t find a recipe that actually excited me after perusing a variety of options I set about creating my own dish based on what looked and tasted right.  The verdict?  From Sidney, who ate two servings before it even left the house, “So good.  More carrots in a bowl please.”  (For some reason carrots on a plate a simply not acceptable to him).  I think my mostly empty bowl I brought home indicates that this dish was a success.

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into uniformly sized thin sticks
3-4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 generous tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground sea salt
Fresh chopped parsley
1 lemon
1)   Place the carrots in a large skillet, add just enough water to cover, and steam on high heat for 5-7
      minutes (or more if you like your veggies softer).  Drain and set aside.
2)  Return the skillet to high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, and spices and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the
      carrots and toss to coat.
3)   Remove carrots from heat and place in a serving bowl.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the top, add
       the parsley and mix to combine.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.  I prefer stronger flavors and added
       a bit more cumin powder.  The salad is best served at room temperature.
Easy-peasey and tasty to boot!
Ready to eat
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