It’s hot. Tomatoes are ripening, and our gardens and markets are full of good things to eat. What to make for dinner?
We’re big on bread salad (panzanella), a simple dish where riffing is practically required.
Piper makes a version she adapted from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s basically Fattoush (Lebanese bread salad) made with toasted Como instead of Turkish flatbread, pita or naan.
By swapping out a few ingredients, you end up with a classic Italian panzanella. Either way, it’s fast, easy, and delicious on its own or alongside grilled fish or meat.
The basic method: Toast slices of Como (or Peasant) bread and tear apart. Combine with cucumber chunks, sliced radishes and tomato wedges, using a 2:1 vegetable to bread ratio. Toss with chopped Italian parsley, green onion and mint. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with Buttermilk Dressing, toss, taste and add more if needed.
Buttermilk dressing: 1 2/3 cup buttermilk, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, a few teaspoons each of toasted and coarsely ground cumin seeds and sesame seeds and 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice.
Italian version: Same method as above but leave out radishes and mint, add a generous amount of chopped fresh basil and dress liberally with extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar & a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add flaky salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Too-early-for-tomatoes version: Grill or roast strips of red pepper and cubes of eggplant until soft. Toss with remaining ingredients.
Grilled bread version: Brush Como slices lightly with olive oil and grill until lightly charred on both sides. Let cool and tear apart.
Optional additions: Quartered hard-cooked eggs, kalamata olives, chunks of Pacific albacore tuna, minced garlic (or rub toasted bread with cut half of garlic clove), roasted red pepper, fresh mozzarella or feta chunks.