Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Panzanella

You know those ridiculously hot summer days? the ones where you dread cooking anything for dinner that involve heating anything on the stove or preheating the oven? I know these are the times that other folks head outside for their grills - but for city-dwellers such as myself, this is not an option. Compound the lack of grill with the stuffy, humid conditions often present in a pre-war brownstone, and you've got yourself primed for a 2 hour wait for a dining-in.com delivery.

Now, I'm in no way saying this is cheaper than dining-in...because I really am not sure? But I'll add it up and get back to you... it does save you the trouble of tipping someone - and the wait, because damn it, if this isn't one quick recipe.

It is my understanding that panzanella is Italian (duh) and was invented as a way to use up day old bread....as a side note, I love this ingenuity. It isn't exactly only used by Italians, because my Portuguese family does this kind of thing all the time- throwing away food is absolutely unacceptable. I think it just stems from a peasant culture...use what you've got!

This is a bread salad that combines some of my very favorite flavors of summer: Shrimp, tomato, avocado, bread, and garlicky-lemony dressing.

I started with the bread. This was baguette from Trader Joe's. The bread was pretty fresh, so I did toast it for just a second for it to get hard. It doesn't need to get any color, you don't want to chip a tooth, but it just needs to dry out a bit. If you plan ahead, you can just leave the bread out while you are at work. Cut it into 2 cups worth of cubes. I made them a little big for this recipe, but in the future, I would make them a little smaller. Three quarters of an inch would probably be good - but bite sized.Next step was the shrimp - when its super hot, I just buy the frozen pre-cooked shrimps and defrost them under running water, but you can roast them (my preferred cooking method), boil them, grill them, pan fry them - whatever your heart desires.


I added the shrimp, cubed bread, grape tomatoes (about 1/2 cup sliced in half) and 1 avocado, (cubed) to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl I added the juice of one fresh lemon, 2 cloves of garlic - chopped, and whisked in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of olive oil. I added salt and pepper to the dressing, then poured over the shrimp, bread, etc in the larger bowl and tossed lightly. This can be served over some romaine as a large salad, or can be used in smaller proportions as an appetizer. I like it all all by itself with a glass of wine...



2 comments:

  1. I just made this last night for dinner. It was sooo good. I didn't have enough olive oil so my did taste a bit lemony so I threw in some balsamic vinaigrette - it tasted pretty good. Next time I think I'm going to add some cucumbers + onion - but this was realllly good!

    Thanks Alicia!

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