When Life Gets You Down, Try Some Panzanella.

September 30, 2010

How's that for my most bizarre blog post title to date?  Ugh.  Aggravating life stuff is getting me down.  You know, those issues that never seem to go away yet you still insist on bashing your head against a 30 foot brick wall?  That would be me of late.  Nothing too concerning, I am just irritated and annoyed mostly.  OK, done with that.

Moving on.  I've been making this here panzanella salad quite a bit over the last month or so and recently it even got my mind off my troubles.  A salad!  That cures seemingly-unsolvable family dynamic craziness!  Imagine that.  Maybe that is a tad hyperbole, true, but there is something very zen-like (to me, anyway) about taking some very humble vegetables (most of which came from our garden!), quietly and calmly cubing them in perfect-ish cubes, also cubing some bread that would otherwise not be used, whisking up the simplest of vinaigrettes and then tossing the whole thing together with my hands.  Yesssss.  And then, sitting down and eating straight from my favorite serving bowl (a gift from my MIL!).  And feeling no guilt about eating the whole thing (or close to it) because it's a salad and the calories don't count!  Please don't tell me there are probably 497 carbs (because there is a whole loaf of bread int here after all) and a million grams of fat (because I am very, very generous with the olive oil) because I sorta already know it's true.  Just work with me here.
Side note: we ate quite a bit of panzanella when we were in Tuscany.  But I dare say I like my version better.  The Tuscans soak the bread in water and crumble it into tiny pieces.  I do believe this is more traditional, but I like the bread in crusty, crunchy croutons that soften a bit from all of that yummy olive oil.  Whichever way you do it, though, it is one of those (many) perfect examples of la cucina povera.

Panzanella....My Way

4-5 good size ripe tomatoes (heirloom is always best!), cubed
1 cucumber, cubed
1/2 medium red onion, sliced and soaked in water for 10 minutes
1 lb. peasant loaf (day old), cubed and toasted in the oven
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (use your best stuff here....it really shines!)
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 cloves garlic smashed into a paste with salt
1 big handful basil leaves, torn

Toss the first four ingredients in your favorite serving bowl.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  It should be very strong and flavorful.  Add vinaigrette to salad along with the basil and toss gently with your hands.  Feel your worries wash away.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Better already.

21 comments:

  1. olive oil doesn't count as fat! eat up!

    and that looks delicious. hope you ate it with some wine because when life gets you down sometimes a glass of wine helps too, yes?

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  2. I'm so glad you reminded me of this delicious meal!!

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  3. Thank you for posting your recipe, it looks/sounds delicious. I recently recieved a copy of a panzanella recipe but it seemed as if it would be very soggy, which I know I wouldn't care for. Can't wait to try this one.

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  4. i'm sorry you've been down. a good meal is always a easy and effective way to lift ones spirits. since italy is still fresh in your mind and heart, and you look like you've got plenty of tomatoes, have you tried making pappa al pomodoro? there is this hole in the wall (literally) amazing restaurant near our house in tuscany which makes the best ever! if you want i can try and squeeze the recipe and the secrets out of the cook for you?

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  5. erin: yes yes yes! and thank you. I love pappa al pomodoro. i have been meaning to email you too....i have been so bad about that. *kisses*

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  6. Oh my gosh, thank you for posting your recipe, because seriously, I could've eaten the whole bowl if it were not for the other guests at the table. On the drive home I kept thinking about your panzanella, Oh. So. Good. You are a very talented cook (and I feel lucky to live nearby)!

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  7. This looks SO good. I can't wait to try it. Hope you are feeling a bit better.

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  8. for the record, I totally prefer this version of panzanella, too. I like my bread quite charred in spots. And, I'm so with you on the soothing powers of chopping, stirring and (like Bridget mentions) sipping :) For me, life's irritations have been pushed aside lately through bread-baking. Looks like I have a salad to make now, too!

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  9. I've decided that you (and B, if necessary) need to do a post on growing the perfect tomatoes. Yours look delicious and there are some of us out here who struggle every year.

    SHARE SHARE.

    (salad looks delicious, as always).

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  10. I totally agree - soggy bread is not my favorite thing, so I like a little chew in my panzanella. Those cucumbers were/are pretty killer too! Sorry for your troubles. :(

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  11. Love peasant food!!! I lived in India as a child and was always pestering the cook to make me chapatis and dhal, in resonse he'd throw his arms in the air and say, "why, why miss you eat the food of the peasant?" Your panzanella looks delicious.

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  12. Good for the tummy and for what ails you. What could be better?

    jbhat

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  13. Your fix for a bad day is healthier than mine. I just had a Green Lakes Organic Ale for lunch, too lazy and stressed to do more than that. Seriously. Frustrating. Day. At least your includes veggies!!

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  14. This is one of my favorite dishes, and I could not agree more- I know, generic, but- with every single line in this post. This type of food- 'peasant food' is my absolute favorite... bread, greens, pot o' beans (ooh, that rhymed:)...

    We have been on a mission to clear the pantry/fridge/freezer out for the past month, and we're allllllllllllmost there!! I couldn't put into words/feelings exactly why this has felt *so good, until I [just] clicked on and read your link, la cucina povera. Thank you for sharing, and I hope your spirits have remained lifted:).

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  15. P.S.

    I need to make a salad for a family gathering today (and I sit here procrastinating, catching up on blog readin')... so this is what I'll make! Now, I'm a bit more excited about getting in the kitchen this morning:). I'll let you know how it turns out!

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  16. Made the salad... and it was a BIG hit! Most had never heard of or tried panzanella, so it was nice to offer/introduce them to something different (and very pretty too).

    Thanks again:).

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  17. That looks marvelous! Yes, puttering around the kitchen is my therapy lately too.

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  18. This is Nicole, Carrie's friend in DC. This salad was delicious! Perfect proportions. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. One day last week, the kind of day where you are counting every single minute till naptime, I made your salad for a pick-me-up lunch. It was divine. Thanks for putting it out into the universe.

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  20. Made this today and it was delicious. Perfect. Thanks for the recipe. Just curious, which olive oil do you use?

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  21. oh, this recipe looks wonderful! Can't wait to try it.

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