One of the many things I love about the summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at the local markets - and for cheap! I love checking out the local farmers markets - whether it is the one 10 minutes away or an hour - each one offers something special and unique. This weekend I went to one fairy off-the-beaten path for me. Usually the one I go to is about a 25 min run away (hey, gotta get your exercise!) but this one is about...a 35 min transit ride away - and on an express bus at that! But it was worth it!
I had indulged a bit too much at the end of the week - with too many meals out and felt like something fresh and whole and loaded with some seasonal goodies!
-two bunches of locally grown 'baby' carrots
-one bag of yellow and orange peppers ("all you can pick" for $4/bag)
-three bags of assorted spices
Not a ton of stuff, but definitely enough to kick off my dinner of "Summer Panzanella." This summer salad is a great way to use an abundance of leftover or plentiful veggies - namely, tomatoes! This Italian salad is also more commonly referred to as a 'bread salad' - with stale chunks of bread tossed with veggies and a vinegar-based dressing. What is really terrific about this salad is that it is so..."what you make it". I went more traditional and used tomatoes, bread, and fresh herbs - but why not add some fruit to the mix? Peaches, strawberries, and oranges would complement the salad well, as well as some grilled asparagus, grilled peppers, or cucumbers. I actually wanted to do a side raw carrot salad, but ran out of time (shaved carrot strips tossed with lemon juice & olive oil, with lots of salt & pepper!). I came up with a basic panzanella on top off romaine lettuce and avocado.
1 1/2 cups of ripped up or cut up bread chunks
(I cut up chunks of baguette, tossed in melted butter and then toasted until crunchy)
2 large ripe tomatoes
3-4 fresh basil leaves
1/2 sprig of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper
Cut the tomatoes into large chunks. Season with salt and pepper and add in the oil, vinegar, and juice.
Toss to coat and let marinate for 15 minutes.
Prepare your bread chunks/croutons - add to the tomatoes along with basil and thyme.
Toss to coat, let the bread soak up the dressing.
As a side, I prepared a straight knock-off of a dish I had last week at a Spanish tapas restaurant. It was my twist on grilled peppers and anchovies on toast, I made grilled peppers and sardines on grilled toast! This super-simple side is a perfect complement to a salad - it's got the substance with the bread and the savoury protein element. Unfortunately the sardines aren't quite a nice out of the can as anchovies, and I had to add quite a bit of lemon juice to kick up the flavour.