It is hot. So hot I want to move. Perhaps Alaska. Is Antarctica too far? It seems like the land of paradise to me right now. I want to sit by the water while icebergs float by, sipping a glass of white wine. Heck, I will lie directly on that iceberg. A little tanning on a giant piece of floating ice. That sounds wonderful.
But not here. Here it is HOT. An all-consuming kind of hot. I’m not going outside hot. I am going to sit right here on the couch, drink lemonade and try not to sweat hot. Oh wait, sticking to the couch. Perhaps I will lie on the floor. No, still hot.
A couple of days ago when I read the temperature on the car thermometer, it said 105°. Wait, is that some kind of joke? 105°? That is the kind of hot that makes a normal person start to swear and kick things. Really, that is too hot.
So as I contemplate the thought of cooking something, causing more heat, more hot. I think, no. No thank you. That is where this salad comes in. If you feel like being fancy you can call it a panzanella salad. Just a fancy-pantsy name for an Italian bread salad. Throw some tomatoes, olives, cucumbers in a bowl with some toasted bread. Done. But I am not feeling very fancy today. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but it is hot here. It is not possible to be both fancy and hot at the same time. I don’t know if you knew that.
But this salad is good. No, it is GOOD. I mean really, really good. And it is incredibly filling. So if you are feeling sweaty and tired from the heat, you can make this, serve it to your family for dinner and be done. Then finish the whole meal off with a bowl of ice cream. Mint chocolate chip, please. And everybody will go to bed happy. Well, they might still be hot. But at least they will have the most delicious salad ever swimming around in their bellies. And that is worth something, right?
So let’s get started. Now, be forewarned, I used a roasted pepper. But if it is too hot, leave it out. Or, better yet, go to the store and buy a pepper already roasted. Let some other person do the dirty, hot work. You relax. Sit down. Drink a margarita. But it is really good when you roast it yourself. So maybe if you are feeling up to it? No, don’t turn that oven on. You’ll regret it. You might become a person who starts kicking and swearing. Cursing me for telling you to turn on that blasted oven when it is 105° outside. Well I’ll leave it up to you. You decide. However you come across it, this recipe calls for a roasted pepper, which you may or may not include. There, I am glad we cleared that up.
First, you chop up your cucumber, onion, tomato and mozzarella and throw them in a bowl. I also used caper berries. What’s that, you ask? These little ugly critters. They look unpleasant, don’t they? Weird. But they are good. I don’t like capers that much. Little shriveled bugs. But caper berries are a different animal. Well, almost. Along with being larger, the caper berry is much milder than the regular caper. Capers and caper berries grow along side one another, but the caper berry does not have the same burst of acidity that the caper has. Which to me makes it a bit more palatable.
You chop up that blasted roasted pepper, which you are using right? Because it is so good. Adding roasty sweetness to your salad. Oh, right. Too hot. We won’t talk about that pepper again, I promise. And some olives. Throw them in the bowl with the artichoke hearts.
Next, make the bread. You chop up your day-old loaf. Which I never have, by the way. Bread does not sit around in our house long enough to get stale. So I always end up using bread that is perfectly soft and fresh. But that is ok. Just toast it longer, and it will be nice and hard, all ready to soak up those yummy salad juices.
Finally, make the vinaigrette and poor it over your salad. I always wait to add the bread crumbs till about a half an hour prior to serving. I don’t like my bread to get too smooshy.
You stir it up and eat it up. It took me all of 10 seconds to gobble this up. The first bite was so freaking good. I finished it up, feeling refreshed. I almost forgot how God-awful hot it was outside. Well, only for a moment. But it was the best moment of the whole darn day.
Panzanella Bread Salad
1 large tomato, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 large cucumber or two smaller ones, chopped, de-seeded and peeled if you desire
1/2 of a large red onion, chopped
1 very large cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup caper berries, chopped
1 cup olives, cut in half
1 cup small mozzarella balls
1 large yellow pepper, roasted till black all over, then peeled, de-seeded and chopped
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
2 large tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 good pinch salt
a few turns of fresh pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, whisk and pour over salad.
Half a loaf of baguette, stale if you have it
Chop bread into cubes. Place large skillet onto stove over moderate heat. Add a few turns of olive oil. Add bread, stirring to fully coat. Cook until bread is golden brown and toasted. Remove from heat. Add to salad half hour prior to serving. Mix salad well.
For more photos and recipe ideas, check out Corey’s blog, Intheorganickitchen.com. Visit often to see her latest organic obsession.