Fall has finally arrived. I'm absolutely thrilled, believe me. There is little as stifling as summertime in Atlanta. This is my favorite time of year - for food and otherwise. Great soups, my mom's German recipes, and big baggy sweaters to cover up the end result of all this hearty eating.
I do have one holdover summer recipe, which I made this past weekend. Panzanella. This is a dish that is so fabulous and easy...and the ingredients are so basic that anyone can make it (i also don't understand why more Italian restaurants in our city don't make it - is there a better recipe for day old bread? I think not.)
The version I've been making is from Tyler Florence's Eat This Book. I've made several recipes from this cookbook and its becoming a staple go-to for me. The recipes aren't crazy difficult and the flavors are bold and varied.
For the batch that I photographed, I was tempted to leave out the celery leaves. Why do I need to bother buying a bunch of celery just for the leaves? Trust me - don't. Not only did they provide a very serendipitous styling moment there with the leaf in the front...but they do add a great extra flavor to the salad.
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
1 French boule, or loaf of round Tuscan bread, torn into bite-size pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
3 anchovy fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of ½ a lemon, or as needed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 roasted red bell peppers, shredded by hand
½ pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
½ pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ bunch of basil, torn into largish pieces
¼ cup celery leaves, torn into largish pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the bread chunks with ¼ cup oil until the bread is wet with the oil. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and back until the bread begins to brown, about 10 minutes. While the bread is going, make the dressing. Use a large knife to chop and mash the garlic, anchovies, and salt to a paste on a cutting board. Scrape it into a large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and stir together. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and gently stir. Taste for seasoning. Finally, add the toasted bread and toss it all together. Taste it and season one last time with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ease of preparation: Too easy for words