What’s for Dinner


I’m so glad summer is here! In our box today we got a pint of strawberries, a bag of apricots, four spring onions, a bag of lettuce, a bunch of carrots, a bunch of radishes, a bundle of fresh rosemary, and two little paper bagsā€”one filled with beautiful heirloom tomatoes, the other with yellow gypsy peppers.

I wanted to work with those tomatoes and peppers immediately, so I made panzanella—Italian bread salad with tomatoes and other veggies. Here’s the recipe, adapted from The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook.

Press two or three cloves of garlic through a garlic press and into a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, and mix it all up with a fork. Set aside.

Cut a loaf of country bread (we used whole wheat and it was delicious) into inch-wide slices. Toast or grill the bread slices, and when they are cool enough to handle, tear them into bite-size pieces and put them in a large salad bowl. Alternately, if you have slightly stale bread or really good croutons, you can use that instead.

While the bread is toasting, cut your tomatoes—two or three pounds of lovely, lovely tomatoes—into bite-size chunks and put them in the same bowl with the bread.

Add whatever you have to hand. A cucumber is good. If you have sweet peppers you can chop them up and throw them in. Anchovies or capers are good (six to eight anchovy fillets, minced, and/or 1/3 cup capers). As Wikipedia says: “Sometimes thought of as a ‘leftover salad,’ additional panzanella ingredients vary widely, and include lettuce, white wine, capers, anchovies, celery, carrots, red wine, red onion, cucumber, tuna, parsley, boiled eggs, mint, bell peppers, lemon juice, and garlic.” So, you know, you can put in any or all of that. I used the peppers, cucumber, and anchovies.

Whisk 1/2 cup of olive oil into the vinegar and garlic mixture until you have a vinaigrette. Pour half of your vinaigrette over the tomatoes, bread, and other ingredients; give them a good toss, then pour the rest of the vinaigrette in and toss again.

Pick out a tomato and a chunk of bread and taste them. If the panzanella needs more salt and/or pepper, add that now. Take a bunch of basil (a couple dozen leaves) and scatter them over the panzanella. Give it one more toss and it’s ready to eat. (If you make the panzanella ahead of time, the bread will soak up the dressing, and you may need to add a bit more olive oil before serving.)

Ours looked like this, and it tasted like summer through and through:


For dessert we’re having a fruit salad of strawberries, blueberries (on sale this week at Whole Foods), and apricot slices. On a long lovely evening like this we can only be grateful for our good fortune.

7 Responses to “What’s for Dinner”

  • Katie Says:

    That looks soooo good!

  • shannon Says:

    Thank you!

  • Madeline Says:

    I love panzanella! I also love that it means “little swamp.” Yours looks like an incredibly tasty little swamp.

    I love living in Vermont, but it pains me a little to read your blog: I just PLANTED our tomatoes and peppers this past weekend, and we won’t have our own ripe ones until late July for the earliest tomatoes, and late August for the red, orange, and chocolate peppers (since I don’t like them green).

    I can’t complain too much, though, because as the localvore (as we spell it on the East Coast) movement has grown, we’ve gotten more and more local food options here. We ate an excellent locally-grown-in-a-greenhouse heirloom tomato with dinner tonight. I think it was a Brandywine.

  • shannon Says:

    Little swamp! I didn’t know that! That’s fantastic.

    Alice Waters says she thinks greenhousing is really essential to local eating.

  • Sam Says:

    The panzanella was excellent. The bread + anchovies + tomatoes… mmmaarg I can still taste it.

  • Sam Says:

    Also, Robin and I ate a lot of fruit dessert that night.

  • What’s for Dinner – Shannon Phillips Says:

    […] I'm excited about the tomatoes. I think I'll make a bowl of panzanella tonight, using some of the celery too, and maybe a plum crisp if I get all excited. Tomorrow we'll […]

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