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.
Recipe from Food Network, Barefoot Contessa
Book Club almost always inspires me to try making something new and the Watermelon Heirloom Salad has been on my list of ‘must try’ since my sister-in-law, Betty, told me about it.
I served this in July with tomatoes and watermelon in season. It is a refreshing salad especially during the hot days of summer. The salad was served with the feta on the side since some of our members are Vegan. Easy peasy and satisfies all. What a wonderful fusion of great flavors. It’s now one of my favorite summer treats.
WATERMELON HEIRLOOM SALAD
3 large heirloom tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds), cored and cute into chunks or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I used multi-color cherry tomatoes)
4 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar)
juice of 1 lime
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh feta (don’t skimp on the quality of the feta)
1 lime, cut into wedges
- Combine the tomatoes, watermelon, mint and basil in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour olive oil mixture over the fruit and toss to mix.
- Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the feta over the salad (or on the side). Serve with lime wedges and sea salt.
Recipe from FreyFarms
Chicken Tikka Masala is made easy using Trader Joe’s delicious Masala sauce. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe below. The second time I made the recipe, I used strips of red, yellow and green pepper, carrots and chopped onions. Both were delicious and easy, peasy. We were so excited when a Trader Joe’s was built fairly close to my house. There are always new products to try and enjoy!
During the pandemic, I went to Trader Joe’s only a couple of times. Hat’s off to Trader Joe’s and how they managed shopper entry, masks, and cleanliness. By far, the best job of any grocery store I ventured into.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…TRADER JOE’S STYLE
1 (15-ounce) jar Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup sliced baby carrots
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
- Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the sauce in a single layer. Pour the drained tomatoes evenly over the chicken.
- Add onions and carrots
- Pour the remaining sauce on top.
- Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (I cooked for 4 hours)
- Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com
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.
- Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Recipe from Curiouscuisinere.com
Fall is in the air and I am ready for soup season! A friend shared the Pork Poblano Stew (with citrus notes) recipe with me and we brainstormed a starch to use in the recipe. I thought sweet potato would be great either added to the stew (which I did) or served over a baked sweet potato. The flavors are unique and so delicious. It is great served with cornbread, crusty bread or, as one daughter suggested, with tortilla chips.
Next week I’ll post a second recipe for a savory Pork Poblano Stew. Both are delicious!
PORK POBLANO STEW WITH SWEET POTATO
2 teaspoons hot or mild chili powder
1 ¼ pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red sweet pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion cut into thin wedges
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (optional–I added and it was delicious)
14.5 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic, undrained
14.5 ounce can chicken broth (I used a quart of chicken broth)
3 inch stick of cinnamon
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- In a medium bowl, sprinkle chili powder over pork. Toss to combine.
- In a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook the pork, about 4 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Remove pork from saucepan; set aside.
- Add remaining oil to saucepan. Add poblano pepper, sweet pepper, and onion to saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potato, tomatoes, broth, and cinnamon stick.
- Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and add reserved pork and orange juice. Return to a simmer for 5 minutes more. Stir in orange peel.
- To serve, remove stick cinnamon. Ladle into shallow bowls.
Recipe adapted from BHG.com
Fall brings the bounty of tomatoes, basil and much more. Older daughter, Megan, told me about a roasted tomato and pesto sauce she made. I tweaked it a bit to serve my tastes. I love the idea of adding pesto to a rich, red tomato sauce. It was delicious and definitely a new recipe for my collection.
ROASTED TOMATO AND PESTO SAUCE
1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained
3 cups roasted tomatoes and peppers, cooled and blended (recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
Cube of pesto (about 1/3 cup)
26.5 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped or blended
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil
1 pound cooked pasta (I used bow tie pasta) and 1 cup of pasta water
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
- Core and slice tomatoes. Halve and remove seeds from peppers.
- Arrange the tomatoes and peppers on a heavy cookie sheet (I line with parchment paper). Drizzle with Avocado oil and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.
- Roast at 400 degrees until the edges of the vegetables start to char and are cooked through.
- Blend the mixture to a smooth consistency.
- Cook and drain the sausage. Drain and set aside.
- Sauté onions in olive oil and when almost cooked through, add the garlic. Continue to salute until garlic is cooked through.
- Add roasted tomatoes and peppers, pesto, San Marzano tomatoes, water, basil and sausage.
- Heat thoroughly.
- Add 1 cup of pasta water to sauce. Stir. Add drained, cooked pasta, and stir to mix thoroughly.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese.
When the temperatures drop and the snow flies, my mind races to a great bowl of chili. My oldest daughter, Megan, has been raving about the Paleo Chili, that I will refer to as Sweet Potato Chili. She is on a Whole-30 and Paleo diet, and she referred to this chili in her post on Life Love and Garlic.
I modestly adapted the originally recipe and the result was amazing. I’m not on a Paleo diet, but I LOVE this recipe. I could see this recipe easily adapted to Vegan by browning mushrooms (with a dash of olive oil) instead of beef and substituting vegetable broth for beef broth.
SWEET POTATO CHILI (AKA PALEO CHILI)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)
- Chop onions and bell pepper and place in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat with ground beef. Using a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat, as it browns, into small pieces.
- Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, drain fat if needed.
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, and all spices except hot sauce and lime juice. Stir well.
- Add peeled and diced sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Optional: Add hot sauce and lime juice. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Recipe adapted from Sweet Potato Chili from The Lucky Penny Blog
Italian Pie is a family favorite for my good buddy, Jan. She suggested I give it a whirl. I can certainly see why it’s a favorite. The crisp crust paired with the hearty meat layer and the yummy cheese layer result in a wonderful, easy meal for your family. Pair with a nice salad, French bread and you’re set!
Next time, I plan to serve it with a side of marina sauce for those that may enjoy a little extra tomato flavor with their pie. Buon appetito!
1 refrigerated pie crust
- Bake a pie crust (I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust). Pierce unbaked crust with fork and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. While the pie crust is baking, brown the meat layer:
1 pound ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
- Cook ground chuck, onion, mushrooms, garlic and seasonings until cooked through. Drain.
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
garlic salt & pepper
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Combine all cheese layer ingredients together
- Pour cooked meat layer into baked crust.
- Top with cheese mixture.
- Sprinkle top of Italian pie with 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Sprinkle with dried parsley.
- Place aluminum foil around the crust edge to protect from over baking.
- Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Pinto Beans and Cornbread was/is a staple in many homes, particular in the southern states. My Mother would occasionally make a pot of beans but it was usually met with disdain by our meat and potatoes Iowa farm family.
When I met my husband, raised in southern Missouri, I quickly learned that Pinto Beans, Cornbread and all of the fixin’s was a much-loved meal. My husband, Karl, usually took charge of this meal but I’ve learned to make it in the crockpot vs. watching it all day on the stove.
Karl and his family serve the pinto beans, cornbread and butter with cooked mustard greens (today it was green beans), corn, fresh sliced tomatoes, and fresh onion.
I prefer a small slice of cornbread with a few beans and a lot of bean stock and vegetables. My big finish…a larger piece of cornbread drowning in honey. Oh yeah!
SLOW COOKED PINTO BEANS
16 ounce package of dried pinto beans
1 ham hock
1/2 large onion, cut into pieces
black pepper to taste
Cover with water (about 1-2″ above the beans)
- Place all of the above in a large crockpot on low setting. I typically start the crockpot in the evening and let it cook all night. In the morning, I add water as needed and cook until ready to serve (lunch or dinner). You may need to turn the setting to high in the morning if the beans are still very hard.
- Once cooked, remove the ham hock and cool. Remove any bits of ham and return to the beans.