I got up at 6am (not by my own choosing but rather because I just couldn't sleep anymore), tidied up the house, went for breakfast with John to The Blue Fox where he ate the "Eggs in Hell" Benny with a side of pan fries and I ordered the "Badger" Benny sided with fresh fruit. We then wandered home through the glorious sunshine, cleaned the bathroom (okay, not my perfect day), blogged for a bit, had some lunch, a good long nap, and then proceeded to read my book in the sun in our backyard with little birds and bugs and bees fluttering about the branches of the trees that overhang that space, glass of vino in hand.
It was lovely. Relaxed. Peaceful. Serene... Save for the constant hum and rush of traffic on the next street over. But it was easy to tune that out with so much fantasticness right in front of me.
Then we had dinner. And it got even better. So, so much better. Yesterday really felt like Summer - and today is promising to be no less! I wanted to eat something last night that reflected the Summer vibe of the weekend. Partial to Spanish style cooking, I adopted and then adapted a recipe I found in one of my Ross Dobson cookbooks, Spanish style Panzanella Salad. I kept what I wanted, tossed what I didn't, and manipulated what was left.
And what was left was a truly Summer salad that was amazingly delicious as well as both filling and light - if you want, be creative and serve with your choice of protein such as grilled fish, chickpea fritters, or preferred quiche for a full meal. Or, serve as is and as a starter, tapa, or side. We had some pan-fried white fish with ours, served with a slice of lemon.
Ensalada de Panzanella
Ingredients for Salad:
1 Bell Pepper, yellow or orange.
1 Spanish Onion, thinly sliced into rounds.
2 C Fresh, Local Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half.
Small Handful Fresh Parsley, roughly torn.
Small Handful Fresh Basil, roughly torn.
1 Tbsp Capers, rinsed & dried.
3 1" Thick Slices Fancy Bread (i.e. Sourdough or Ciabatta).
Small Handful Good Quality Manchego Cheese, shaved.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
Ingredients for Dressing:
1/2 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
4 Tbsp Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar.
Juice of Half a Lemon.
1 Clove Garlic, minced.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste.
What to Do:
Put your sliced tomatoes in a bowl. Dust lightly with some salt and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal. This allows for their juices (and flavour!) to come to the surface.
Turn your grill to medium-high. While it heats, toss the pepper with a little bit of olive oil. Once hot, place the pepper on the grill and char the outside, turning every 5 minutes. Once blackened - takes about 20 minutes - throw into a plastic freezer bag (or a bowl covered with cling film), let sit 10 minutes, and then remove. The blackened skin will peel off very easily and you will be left with amazing, smokey pepper. Slice in half, remove the seeds, and then cut into thin slices (also known as julienne cut).
While the pepper is on the grill, lightly brush some olive oil on the bread and place the slices over a lower heat area of the grill. Toast. Remove from heat and chop into 1" pieces. Set aside.
In a mason jar, dump all the dressing ingredients. Seal with the lid and shake hard to combine.
Now, throw all your salad ingredients into the tomato bowl, dress lightly with the dressing, and toss gently. Taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.