Thursday, July 26, 2012


It’s that season of abundance. But for me it’s actually a season of scarcity. It’s the first year in many that I don’t have a home vegetable garden from which to harvest all my favorite tomatoes, summer squash, and beans. So as I purchase my produce, I’m mindful of making the most of what I select. I bought a large quantity of various cherry tomatoes recently and have had the best time using them in the usual and not-so-usual ways.

I bought them to make a panzanella-style salad recipe I found in a book due out this fall from James Peterson called Kitchen Simple. I’ve been trying many recipes from the book, and I have to say this kind of cooking suits me and my approach to eating. I prefer meals that focus on a few flavors and let the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves.

I’ve looked at a number of panzanella recipes since making this one, and this is by far the simplest. Take some good bread, and toast cubes in olive oil so they come out like croutons. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Add some fresh basil leaves. Toss in black olives, anchovies, and red bell pepper, if you like. Make a little dressing out of olive oil and sherry vinegar with salt and pepper, and put it all together. I served this with Chicken Saltimbocca (also from Kitchen Simple), and the meal was a hit.

The next day I made up a fresh batch and put some of the chicken over the top (see photo), and it made a terrific lunch salad.

Another day, I hadn’t thought about lunch but was in need. Looked in the fridge. Not much there. Ah, a few tomatoes left. I’d made some bread and thought a mayo and tomato sandwich would fit the bill. I do have a couple of basil plants in a window box, so I plucked a few leaves to add some pop.

I feel I made this sandwich up, but it was so tasty that I figure that it’s been done before and I’m way behind. Toast some bread. Spread your favorite amount of mayo on the toast. Layer with basil and top with sliced tomatoes. Add a little salt, if you like (see photo). Eat open-faced.

Today, I did this same thing and added crispy bacon to make it a formal sandwich. Dang, it was good.

And now, I’m out of tomatoes.

— Zan Farr

Zan Farr loves good, simple food and likes to write about it. She is also an avid reader, gardener, and dog and cat parent.

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