Panzanella, or panmolle, is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes. It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy (per Wikipedia). The first time I had this salad, about 10 years ago, I fell in love.
It’s a scrumptious salad, any time of the year, but especially when I have fresh tomatoes from my garden. Fresh, flavorful and healthy!
3 tablespoons good olive oil 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced 20 large, fresh basil leaves 3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 1/2 cup good olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
In 2020 I planted golden beets for the first time in my garden. I love a fresh beet and goat cheese salad but the big surprise for me was how delicious beet greens are.
My friend, Jan, told me about a Swiss Chard with Tahini recipe, referenced below, which I adapted to use with beet greens, minus the extra sauce. I made it several times last year and will be making it every year that I grow beets or can purchase beets with greens. Out of this world!
BEET GREENS WITH PINE NUTS
2 3/4 lb. beet Greens or Swiss Chard
2.5 tbsp. unsalted butter
scant 5 tbsp. pine nuts
2 small cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1/4 cup dry white wine
sweet paprika, to garnish (optional)
salt and pepper
Clean the beet greens or Swiss Chard. Chop into strips.
Put half of the butter and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the large frying pan and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the pine nuts and toss them in the pan until golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan.
Throw in the garlic. Cook for about a minutes until it starts to become golden
Carefully pour in the wine. Leave for a minute or less, until it reduces to about one third. Add the chopped beet greens and the res tof the butter and cook for 2-5 minutes, until the beet greens are wilted.
Season with slat and black pepper. Divide the greens among the individual serving bowls, and scatter with pine nuts. Drizzle with additional olive oil and paprika, if you desire.
Cinnamon Basil…who knew there was such a thing. I grew Cinnamon Basil in my garden, not really sure what I would do with it. It truly has a cinnamon essence and is great in salads. I adapted this recipe, adding chopped walnuts and Craisins to add a fruity, crunchy addition to the salad. Next time, I may add a little crumbled goat cheese. Mmmmm.
ARUGULA AND CINNAMON BASIL SALAD
6 cups rocket (arugula)
1 cup cinnamon basil, torn (I used a little less)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Craisins
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 dash salt
Put the dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well.
Put the rocket, onion, walnuts, Craisins, and basil in a salad bowl and toss, with a little dressing.
Mediterranean Food is so fresh and delicious. Daughter, Sarah, has made this recipe many times with rave reviews. I decided to make it but add diced cucumber, making this more like a Greed Salad. Using fresh Feta cheese, in block form, allows the cheese to absorb the olive oil and seasoning. My family agrees that the cucumber takes this dip to a new level. If you like Greek olives, you could add those as well. I served with Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips. Scrumptious!
MEDITERRANEAN FETA DIP
1/3 cup olive oil 3Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced 4-5green onions, sliced thinly 1/2 diced English cucumber 8ouncesfeta cheese, crumbled (I used fresh block Feta) 2-3teaspoonsCavender’s Greek seasoning fresh baguette, sliced thinly or Pita chips optional balsamic vinegar
On a large platter drizzle olive oil until you have a thin layer on the entire platter. You may use more or less here depending on your preference.
Add the tomatoes, green onions, and feta on top of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning to taste.
With a spoon carefully combine the ingredients. We found that we like a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top. If desired, drizzle a little balsamic on top.
Serve with warm sliced baguettes for scooping up the dip.
Ratatouille is a vegetable side dish filled with wonderful flavors. Every time I say the word ‘Ratatouille’ I have to smile and think of the Disney animated film Ratatouille. The young rat, Remy, dreams of becoming a famous French chef. Such a funny film, great to watch with children, grandchildren or in the privacy of your own adult home…no one needs to know you’re watching a cartoon!
Celebrate after watching the film by enjoying the real deal!
LAYERED BAKED RATATOUILLE
2 cups (16 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dry) (plus more for sprinkling)
½ tsp. salt (plus more for sprinkling)
¼ tsp. pepper (plus more for sprinkling)
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced*
2 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced*
2 small eggplant, thinly sliced*
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1” squares
Parmesan cheese, to top (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Spread 1 tbsp. olive oil in the bottom of a 9 inch cast iron skillet. In a small bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the base of your skillet.
Layer the sliced vegetables vertically around the skillet, packing them as tight as you can. (We find that it is easier to layer the zucchini, squash, and eggplant in the skillet and then go back in and tuck the red peppers within the layers after the other vegetables have been filled in.)
Season the top of the vegetables with additional salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle with more olive oil.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the vegetables are softened and starting to brown slightly.
Unique Zucchini recipes are always of interest to me and this Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Zucchini Break did not disappoint. Breads, cakes and cookies with rolled oats are a favorite, now adding coconut and chocolate…what’s not to like!
OATMEAL COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI BREAD
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat white flour (may be substituted with all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt 3/4 cup coconut sugar (may be substituted with granulated or brown sugar) 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (may be substituted with canola oil)
2 large eggs
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a standard size loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Whisk together the oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and coconut oil vigorously, until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, coconut, and chocolate chips and stir until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!
Sungold cherry tomatoes have become our family’s favorite tomatoes, eating them off the wine as a treat. They are so sweet and incredibly delicious. Just perfect for Cherry Tomato Jam.
Each year I seem to have an abundance of tomatoes, making salads with them, roasting them with peppers and garlic and much more. Tomato Jam recipes were popping up this year and I decided to try it. It’s so easy and delicious. I haven’t tried to can it because it disappears from the frig long before the expiration date. Serve it on a crusty bread or on top of a soft cheese. I also made a Grilled Cheese with a schmeer of tomato jam. YUMMO!
CHERRY TOMATO JAM
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup) 3 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 32 ounces (2 lbs.) cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pints) 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 large spring thyme 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chili powder and smoked paprika and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes burst and thicken, for about 10-15 minutes. If at any time the pan becomes dry and the tomatoes begin to burn, add a tablespoon or two more of water and reduce the heat a bit more.
Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.
Wild Plums are a new discovery for me. A few weeks ago, I was on a walk with my granddaughter when we saw these pretty purple, red and yellow fruit growing in the open space. I brought a few back to house and identified them. Wild Plums! My daughter and her family walked to open space to pick several pounds of fruit. We were cautiously optimistic and decided to make a trial batch from the few ripe plums. We left the skins on for the trial. It was delicious but and we did not like the texture of the cooked skins.
A week later, the rest of the plums were ripe and we decided to make and can the jam, using a food strainer to remove the skins. My Mom’s trusty food strainer did the trick!
The jam is pretty and tart. I can’t wait to try it on breakfast toast, pancakes, or perhaps with a mild cheese.
Finding these little gems caused interest in the history of the wild plum and how Native Americans and our ancestors may have used them. Wild Plums appear to grow in many states. The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer published an interesting history.
WILD PLUM JAM
5 pounds Wild Plums 5 cups sugar (the original recipe called for 10 cups of sugar) 4.5tablespoonslemon juice
Pit the plums and place them into a thick bottomed pot.
Add in the lemon juice and cook for a few minutes, until the plums begin to release their juices.
Add in sugar and stir. Simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes.1/2 to compensate for the naturally sweeter fruit.
When the jam thickens, pour the hot jam into a food sieve. Press to remove the juice and pulp. Discard the remaining skins. Put back on heat to assure the jam returns to temperature.
Pour the hot jam into prepared canning jars. At this point, the jam can either be stored in the refrigerator or processed for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
After a 10 minute process, turn off the heat, wait 5 more minutes and then remove the jars from the canner.
Allow the jars to cool, and after 24 hours place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.
Zucchini is normally the vegetable that you are drowning in by the end of summer. This year it was yellow squash. After making two batches of Lemon Yellow Summer Squash Bread and roasting pans of mixed garden vegetables, I moved on to a new recipe for Sweet Yellow Squash Pickles. My Mother always made Bread & Butter Pickles and I loved them. These are very similar and quite delicious. A new favorite for my yellow squash harvest!
SWEET YELLOW SQUASH PICKLES
4 small yellow squash – cut in thin (1/4-inch slices or less); about 3 cups 1/2 cup thinly slices red onion 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup white vinegar 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 1 teaspoon celery seeds 1 teaspoon dry mustard
In a large non-metal bowl, combine the squash and onion. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then, drain the liquid from the vegetables.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and dry mustard. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the squash and onion mixture and then return to boiling.
Remove from heat. Ladle the hot vegetables and liquid into sterilized canning jars.
At this point, the jars can be processed for long-term canning or covered and stored as-is in the refrigerator for up to one month.
My Mother always grew a large garden and had a plentiful canning room in the basement with many types of pickles, tomatoes, corn, green beans, chicken, beef, peaches, pears, apples, jams. jelly, and more. What she didn’t can, she froze. I fondly remember the annual family gathering to pick, husk, parboil, cut and pack sweet corn for the freezer. How wonderful to enjoy this bounty during the long, cold Iowa winters.
This year I had a plentiful harvest of cucumbers. With the first hard freeze shortly after Labor Day, I had to pick most the produce, including many cucumbers. I made my Mom’s Easy Dill Pickle recipe and it didn’t disappoint. The addition of fresh garlic to the second batch will be a new twist!
EASY DILL PICKLES
Medium Cucumber, sliced into spears or slices
Optional: Peeled cloves of garlic
Wash medium size cucumbers and pack in canning quart jars. Add fresh dill to the top (stem and all). Place 1/4 teaspoon alum in the top of each quart jar of cucumbers.
Boil canning lids and rings in a separate pot.
Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. To each quart of liquid add 4 tablespoons salt. Heat liquid to boiling point. Pour liquid, while hot, over pickles.
Immediately place lids and rings on each jar.Let stand until cool. Check to assure lid has sealed. Let the pickles sit in the brine for a few days/weeks. Store in a cool place.
I’ve also made these pickles and just placed in the frig, skipping the canning process.