3% dead battery After several weekends in a row spent celebrating a variety of events with friends and family, the Duracell inside my brain finally slowed to a crawl and I started to look, sound, and feel like a dying wind-up toy. Fully expecting to spend Monday in bed with face lotion (to prevent nose peels, of course), chapstick, and a box of “cooling” tissues, I surprised myself by doing something I hadn’t thought to do in months yet still felt oddly familiar.
I meal planned.
I flipped through Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Vegetarian Times. I let inspiration strike until I found my pen flying and my notepad full of ingredients. Not a mere grocery list, but a list of ingredients which undoubtedly implied that I intended to cook something.
I decided to celebrate my return to the meal plan with a dish that screamed summer, but also wasn’t that much cooking. I mean, I hadn’t so much as baked a piece of chicken in 4 months so I wasn’t going all Julia Child with my first shimmy back into the kitchen.
A summer salad. Perfect.
Using a recipe from this month’s Bon Appetit as inspiration, I assembled the panzanella salad using Sun Gold tomatoes and tiny red onions from our bi-weekly CSA (the very same that I partnered with last summer). At the grocery store, I grabbed greens and bread from Companion Bakery , one of the best in St. Louis. I turned the oven on only to transform that bread into croutons. The rest of the ingredients were instructed to meld on their own while I played Candy Crush for an hour. Then I tossed, garnished, and served.
And that is how I shimmied back into the kitchen.
Panzanella Salad with Sun Gold Tomatoes
by Every Little Thing
Keywords: raw roast salad side vegetarian July 4th Italian summer
Ingredients (serves 2, generously)
Combine red onion and apple cider vinegar in a bowl or jar. Mix to combine and let stand.
Transfer 1 tablespoon vinegar from onions to a large bowl. Gradually add oil while whisking until combined. Season dressing with salt and pepper (add more vinegar from onion mixture if desired).
Add Sun Gold tomatoes and all juices to olive oil/vinegar mix and gently toss to coat the tomatoes. Let the mixture sit at room temperature in order to allow tomatoes to release juices and soften, 30-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Approximately 15-20 minutes before you’re ready to eat, toss torn bread with oil on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer; season with salt and pepper.
Bake bread, tossing occasionally, until crisp, approximately 15 minutes. Set oven to broil, then sprinkle with Parmesan and broil until melted and browned, approximately 2 minutes.
Add greens and croutons to bowl with tomatoes; season with salt and pepper as desired and toss to combine. Drain pickled onions and top panzanella salad with pickled red onion and pine nuts.
I threw the finished panzanella salad over a grain mix (cous cous, quinoa, and orzo were all involved, I believe). I wasn’t convinced this salad could masquerade as a dinner in and of itself.
Then I ate it.
All of it.
And I was full.
Each bite of those Sun Gold tomatoes squirted tart juice that only enhanced all those fresh croutons. The pickled onion and pine nuts provided a texture enhancement that complemented each leafy green. And the grains proved hearty, casually sticking to each salad component and sneaking their way into the mouth.
This panzanella salad with Sun Gold tomatoes worked wonders for my appetite. This salad pushed my poor diet as of late into a 360 spin.
But most importantly, this salad worked wonders for my shimmy.