Good recipes, real “keeper”
recipes, are the ones that strike a chord at a very particular time and place
in your life. Then you remember them fondly—for what you were doing at the time
or how the food made you feel. Jeanine Donofrio’s beautiful panzanella salad
has this affect on me—it reminds me of traveling in Italy and Greece and warm
summer nights spent eating tomatoes, good bread, basil and salty cheese late
into the evening. Jeanine’s blog, Love
and Lemons, is known for its stunning photography and lush salad recipes,
and I was ever so thankful to stumble upon this one, where she takes a
relatively basic salad recipe and transforms it into a meal with poached eggs
and a healthy dose of grilled bread. It's perfect for hot summer nights when turning
on the oven just isn’t an option.
1 1/2 cups cherry and/or pear tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup ricotta salata cheese, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
5 or 6 basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 to 4 eggs, for poaching (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or white or red wine vinegar)
Squeeze of lemon juice (1 to 2 tablespoons, to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Few pinches red pepper flakes
step: In a small bowl, toss red onion slices with a teaspoon or two of the
champagne vinegar. Set aside while you work on the rest of the steps. This
helps cut down on the harsh raw onion taste.
2. Slice bread into
1/2-inch-thick slices, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a few pinches of salt
and grill both sides until lightly charred. Remove bread from grill and rub it
with the sliced side of a garlic clove while the bread is still warm. Chop
the bread into cubes and set aside.
3. In another small
bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, toss
the bread cubes, tomatoes, onion slices, ricotta salata and basil together
with the dressing.
4. Top with toasted
pine nuts and a few more red pepper flakes. Allow the salad to sit for 15 to 20
minutes for the dressing to soak into the bread. Taste and adjust seasonings.
5. Top plated
servings with poached eggs if you wish. If you’re not familiar with how to
poach an egg, Smitten Kitchen has a nice tutorial.