Ten Minute Meal :: Panzanella with Cannellini

The weather here has been a bit extreme. Unbearably hot and humid with a drying wind that burned what was left of my hydrangeas, then this week sunny, bright, and cool, with nights that required long sleeves and socks. But it’s still tomato season, and they are having their moment and should be utilized, even if I don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen.

With the start of school last week, and quite a number of adjustments to our schedule—relaxed or possibly even non-existent over the summer—this week, I’ve been a bit tapped out when dinner time rolls around. But there’s only so many days one can eat pasta or pizza, isn’t there?

Luckily, we are all fans of panzanella, which the kids call crouton salad, and we have a few variations that are the perfect thing to make when you don’t really feel like being in the kitchen. This one is my favorite version.

This here is a mix of canned and rinsed Cannellini beans, chopped ripe tomatoes (these are amazingly sweet yellow heirlooms), thinly sliced yellow bell pepper, a handful of parsley, and the leftover, sliced heart from the head of a Boston Bibb lettuce. Mixed together with the juice of two lemons, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

10min Beans N Greens

While that sits for a minute or two, I take some lovely sliced bread from a local baker, slather it with olive oil, stick it in the toaster, then stack and cut it into bite-sized chunks. This is such a time saver! Broiling takes too long, and I can’t count the number of times I burnt all the bread because I forgot it for a few extra seconds. As an added bonus the kids can help with this part while I sliced and toss the other ingredients.

Toasty Bread

First, the bread goes into the bowl… I like it to be the base to soak up all the juice from the tomatoes and lemon and olive oil.

In A Bowl

Then the other ingredients.

Lemons N Oil

Ten minutes. Well, maybe fifteen depending on how comfortable you are with a knife. Super simple, incredibly tasty, and no cooking required (toaster doesn’t count).


Late Evening Summer Repast

One of the things I like most about my blog title is that I’ve kept it open to all endeavors in which I occasionally dabble in obsessively, not only knitting. Of course, the subject of the majority of the entries will remain firmly in the realm of knits and purls; after all I do have an ever increasing stash that needs working through. But I hope to more frequently write up a little about what goes on in my kitchen as I manage to spend quite a bit of my day there. Often I find myself wishing there was even more time and energy available to cook up another dreamy recipe or two… and an instant-extend-a-nap button.

This summer I’m spending some time learning how bake bread, something I’ve always had a fascination with that has only deepened the longer we spend time here in this city with it dearth of good and/or readily available bread. I have now almost conquered ciabatta–still have a few issues every now and then–and I’ve found a grilled flatbread recipe which brings me great joy, as well as yummy dinners. So far we’ve used it to dip into a lovely herbed oil, topped it with sauteed zuchinni with lots of garlic and plenty of lemon peel, or covered it with red ripe heirloom tomatoes my dad brought up from the South.

But my favorite so far was last night’s dinner when I took some very bland, cardboard-y tomatoes, de-seeded the chopped them up and threw it all in a pan with some beautiful olive oil, a clove or two of local garlic, salt, pepper, and a whole mess of saffron letting it cook nice and slow until the tomatoes found the sweetness they had buried deep inside. After I took the bread of the grill, I slathered some labne–a drained yogurt–stirred in a few drops of sherry vinegar into the tomatoes then dropped it by the spoonful onto the bread.

It was a rather yummy way to put the day to rest. The herbal sun tea was a perfect little drink to go along with it.

I cooked the tomatoes a little too unkindly in the first few minutes, so they fell apart into a mess, but if you have more patience and take your time with low temperatures, the tomatoes will keep their shape rather well.

But as soon as those local ripe tomatoes start rolling in, I’ll kiss my pan, put it back in the cabinet, and never give it a second thought until September.

Unless, of course, there’s bacon.