It’s high summer. The tomatoes, cucumber, and basil have hit that wonderful stage: panzanella.
For some of us summer begins in March, when the seed catalogs arrive and the shopping sprees begin. For those same folks, summer begins winding down with the fourth of July’s flowery fireworks. For others, panzanella marks the true beginning of summer. Who’s the optimist/pessimist here? POD or her wonderful garden widower? Discuss.
Either way, panzanella is a happy, happy meal.
Ingredients: serves 2-3
basil, a nice handful or two, cut into a chiffonade
tomatoes, we’re using a healthy 1/2 lb of tumbling toms and gold nuggets, chopped
2-4 cucumbers, sliced (POD’s first lemon cucumber is pictured above)
1 ball (1/2 lb or so) fresh mozzarella, cubed
leftover crusty bread, a dozen 1/2- 3/4″ slices
3 tbs. high-quality balsamic vinegar
3 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper
1) Toss the basil, tomatoes, cucmbers, and mozzarella in a large bowl.
2) Combine your vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a jar. Shake like crazy — until your vinaigrette appears almost creamy.
3) Rub the bread slices with garlic and olive oil. Grill until toasty and golden.
4) Break the bread into bite-sized pieces and add to the vegetables and mozzarella.
5) Pour on the dressing, toss thoroughly, let it rest for 5 minutes, eat.
Philly gardeners should check out the Pennsylvania Horticultural society’s City Gardening Series workshops. They’re free and full of useful tips. For example, POD discovered that early on in the season container gardeners can cram their pots with all sorts of greenery.
So, with that in mind, this 5-gallon bucket is sprouting 3 cucumbers (two Space Masters, from D. Landreth Seed Company and one lemon cucumber snitched from my mother’s supply). The Swiss chard seedlings came from Moore’s Greenhouses, a small family-owned operation in West Deptford, New Jersey.
While the cucumbers are still wee we can enjoy all the chard we want. I’ll just yank them when the space masters need a little more space.