Saturday, June 13, 2015


I still can't believe this is one of my favorite go-to summer dinners.  I'm not a big fan of sweet peppers, but once when I worked at a restaurant in Minnesota, the owner made this one of her specials (an Ina Garten "The Barefoot Contessa" recipe).  When I came in the next morning, I had a couple of bites and couldn't believe how much I loved it!  Ten years later, I'm still making it, usually a couple of times of month during the summer.  It's a beautiful, healthy, light dinner to make when Jim has been out working in the hot, humid yard all day long.

Personally, there are three ingredients that are most important to me:  a good baguette (I always use Panera since it's available coast-to-coast and you can always count on its uniformity), pickling cucumbers (versus regular large cucumbers), since they are sweeter, crisper, and don't have those chewy seeds in those big honkin' cukes stores tend to stock, and grape tomatoes, since they have the traditional tomato flavor and available year-around.

One other thing, I tend to buy the packages of mini sweet peppers (you can find them at Aldi's for much less than at your local grocer) and so you don't have to spend a small fortune on one red, one orange, and one yellow pepper.  Just kinda figure out how many small peppers might equal one regular-sized one.  This is a real "guesstimate."  Adjust the ingredients to your liking.

PANZANELLA (4 entree servings)

Cube one baguette.  In Dutch oven, add olive oil to coat the bottom and add kosher salt.  Add bread cubes (you may need to do several batches) and continue to stir until croutons are browned.

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
5-6 pickling cucumbers (I strip 3-4 strips of the peel off, then cut the cuke into 4 lengthwise cuts, then dice) or 1 diced English cucumber
1 red, orange, and yellow sweet pepper, diced
2 semi-thick slices of red onion, diced
about 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO

When ready to serve, mix all of the vegetables with the croutons and vinaigrette. 

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