PANZANELLA

ahhhhh – I’ve arrived at my parent’s home in the UK (a little cottage in a tiny village in Surrey,) and am just getting over jet lag. Despite the fact that when it’s lunchtime here, it’s four in the morning back home, I’ve managed to get my taste buds onto British time and mom and I are already rummaging around in her kitchen, dreaming up the week’s menu.

Since she has an abundance of tomatoes and basil in her little garden and a large stale piece of ciabatta in her bread bin, I suggested a simple Panzanella for lunch today. I love Panzanella, which basically means “bread salad,” because it’s made from simple rustic ingredients that anyone can find. It goes without saying that the quality of the tomatoes make or break this dish, so go out of your way to get some good ones from the farmer’s market. I wouldn’t use heirloom tomatoes because they’re wasted in this salad. Whenever I find a perfect stripey heirloom, I just like to eat it naked with good olive oil and sea salt.

This salad calls for salty tastes to counter the sweet of the tomatoes and fresh basil, so I use anchovies, which you either love or hate – if you fall into the latter camp, use capers instead. Stale bread works best, so if you are eating ciabatta, forcaccia or olive bread this week, save a chunk and leave it out to get crusty.

The only fiddly part of this recipe is peeling the tomatoes, which you really have to do. That said, I’ve now got it down to a fine art, which I’ll share in a second.

Panzanella

4 or 5 medium tomatoes (preferably organic.)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp red wine vinegar
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
3 slices or a large end of stale ciabatta bread
1 tin of anchovies (drained and chopped)
12 black Kalamata olives
1 large bunch of basil, leaves torn off stems
1 bunch a flat leafed parsley ( we only had curly parsley, which isn’t as nice.)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 1 full minute and then drain under cold water. Slip off their skins. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the cores. Some recipes call for the tomatoes to be de-seeded, but I think this takes away all the juicy-ness, so I vote to just cut out the cores with a sharp little knife.

Roughly chop the tomatoes.

Add the oil, garlic, vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.

If the bread is soft enough, rip it into bite sized pieces – if it’s rock solid, use a sharp serrated knife to chop it up.

Place it in a pretty bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread and toss the salad around, making sure the bread is well coated. Add the parsley, basil, anchovies and olives – combine well. Finally add the red onion.

The salad is best left for a good hour before eating to allow the juices to soak into the bread. Eat the salad at room temperature. It’s even better the next day, however, if you chill it in the fridge overnight, be sure to take it out an hour prior to eating because the flavors only really come out if it’s room temperature.

I recommend eating this salad for a delicious lunch – it also travels well, so you could pop it in a reusable container to take to lunch at work. It also works well as an appetizer or a side to meat or fish.

RECIPE: Panzanella

Panzanella

4 or 5 medium tomatoes (preferably organic.)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp red wine vinegar
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
3 slices or a large end of stale ciabatta bread
1 tin of anchovies (drained and chopped)
12 black Kalamata olives
1 large bunch of basil, leaves torn off stems
1 bunch a flat leafed parsley ( we only had curly parsley, which isn’t as nice.)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 1 full minute and then drain under cold water. Slip off their skins. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the cores. Some recipes call for the tomatoes to be de-seeded, but I think this takes away all the juicy-ness, so I vote to just cut out the cores with a sharp little knife.

Roughly chop the tomatoes.

Add the oil, garlic, vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.

If the bread is soft enough, rip it into bite sized pieces – if it’s rock solid, use a sharp serrated knife to chop it up.

Place it in a pretty bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread and toss the salad around, making sure the bread is well coated. Add the parsley, basil, anchovies and olives – combine well. Finally add the red onion.

The salad is best left for a good hour before eating to allow the juices to soak into the bread. Eat the salad at room temperature. It’s even better the next day, however, if you chill it in the fridge overnight, be sure to take it out an hour prior to eating because the flavors only really come out if it’s room temperature.

 

RECIPE: Crunchy Mediterranean Wrap

Serves 2

The Wrap

2 large organic flour tortillas
1 cup of marinated bell peppers, cut into strips (you should be able to find them in a jar at your local grocery store.)
1 bag of broccoli slaw (you can find organic broccoli slaw at Trader Joe’s market – it you don’t live near a T.J.’s just use regular undressed slaw.)
1/2 ripe, but firm avocado

<strong>Creamy Hummus Dressing</strong>

1/2 cup olive oil
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
2tbsp garbanzo beans
1tsp tahini
1 clove garlic
1tbsp lemon juice
1tsp parsley, chopped or 1/2tsp dried parsley
Salt &amp; cracked pepper to taste

If not fresh today, gently warm the tortillas and then fill each with the a handful of slaw, followed by the strips of peppers. Arrange the avocado slices on top and drizzle generously with the dressing. Wrap tightly and serve with a side of the dressing for dipping and some crunchy chips.

CRUNCY MEDITERRANEAN WRAP

I’m always experimenting with very-quick-to-prepare (often haven’t got time to even wash a lettuce,) tasty lunches for myself. This has become a favorite because it takes five minutes to put together. You bite through the soft flour tortilla into the creamy avocado and then healthy crunchy broccoli slaw. A perfect veggie/vegan lunch for any day of the week.

The Wrap
Serves 2

2 large organic flour tortillas
1 cup of marinated bell peppers, cut into strips (you should be able to find them in a jar at your local grocery store.)

1 bag of broccoli slaw (you can find organic broccoli slaw at Trader Joe’s market – it you don’t live near a T.J.’s just use regular undressed slaw.)

1/2 ripe, but firm avocado

Creamy Hummus Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
2tbsp garbanzo beans
1tsp tahini
1 clove garlic
1tbsp lemon juice
1tsp parsley, chopped or 1/2tsp dried parsley
Salt & cracked pepper to taste

If not fresh today, gently warm the tortillas and then fill each with the a handful of slaw, followed by the strips of peppers. Arrange the avocado slices on top and drizzle generously with the dressing. Wrap tightly and serve with a side of the dressing for dipping and some crunch chips.

I love the Beanfields Chips – Rice & Bean Chips, as they’re spicy and just….ummmm!

RECIPE: Crispy Seitan with Lemony Bean Salad

 

Crispy Seitan
Serves 2

1 package of seitan (health food store)
1cup yellow corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (regular if you can’t get smoked)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg replacer if you are vegan)
About 4tbsp raw coconut oil* for frying (you may need more)

 

 

Empty the seitan on a shallow bowl (cereal bowl will do,) in another bowl place the cornmeal, salt and paprika and combine well.

 

Whisk up the egg and pour over the setian, making sure each piece is well coated. Take each piece of seitan and roll in in the cornmeal – spend a little time making sure that each piece is completely covered in the meal.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan until is sizzles. Carefully, using tongs, place each piece of cornmeal in the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes (or until brown and crispy,) on each side. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in the oven.

 

Lemony Bean Salad

2 Cups Green Beans (I used green and yellow wax beans as that’s what I got in my farm box.)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame beans
2 scallions, minced
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tsp lemon juice
1/2tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste

Steam the beans and edamame in a large saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until just tender. Be really careful not to overcook as you want them slightly crunchy. After you’ve drained them, dump them in a large bowl of iced water, then drain again.

Mix up the dressing ingredients. When you are ready to serve, arrange the beans in a bowl and gently toss in the dressing. Sprinkle the scallions on top.

Serve the bean salad alongside the crispy seitan with a generous dollop of garlicky veganaise on the side (mix 1 cup of mayo or Follow Your Heart’s Veganaise with 1/2 crushed clove of garlic and a pinch of lemon zest.)

 

RECIPE: 3 Berry Pastie

Granny’s 3 Berry Pastie

Flaky Pie Crust

1cup whole wheat flour
1cup pastry or unbleached all-pupose flour
1/2tsp salt
1tsp sugar
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, cut into chunks
About 4 tbsp ice cold water

I like to “rub” the butter into the flour by hand. So place the flour and butter in a medium bowl and set to work. It’ll only take 5 minutes and is really therapeutic.

When you have a mixture, which sort of resembles “crumbles”, mix in the salt and sugar.

Then add the water and with your hands smoosh the mixture into a smooth round ball/disk. Pop it in a sealable plastic bag and place in the fridge as least one hour prior to using.

Flour a surface or large wooden board and roll out the pastry. As you are using a whole wheat flour, it may crack a bit at the edges as you roll it out, but no worries because you’ll be cutting the edges off. When you’ll rolled it out to a size that is clearly bigger than the round baking tin, carefully roll it around rolling pin to help transfer it to tin and unroll over the tin. Push the pastry into the tin and use excess around the edges to patch up holes.

The Filling

4cups mixed berries ( I used raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4cup brown sugar (I used Coconut Palm Sugar, which I love – from Whole Foods.)

Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl, making sure flour doesn’t clump. Transfer this mixture into the pie dish.

Roll out the remaining dough for the top of the pie. Cut two slits in the top and glaze the pie with a milk or egg wash.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

You can either eat it hot, room temperature or cold – all 3 work. I recommend keeping it out of the fridge if you are eating it the next day, as the pastry will stay light and buttery.

 

RECIPE: Brandy Snaps

¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup white super-fine sugar
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup plain flour
1 level tsp ground ginger
2 tsp lemon juice

Pre-heat oven to 325 F

Melt the butter, sugar and rice syrup in a small saucepan (just until butter melt)n – mix well.

Remove the pan from heat and whip in the remaining ingredients.

Find the largest baking sheet you own and grease it really well. Add tsp dollops onto the baking sheet. You have to space them really well apart as they’ll expant to the size of your outstretched palm. Place in the oven for 9 minutes, at which point they should be a sort of caramely brown color.

Allow them to cool for JUST ONE MINUTE and stand by with a stainless spatula in your hand. If you flick up the edge, you’ll know when they are ready. As soon as you can get a spatula underneath, do so and very quickly roll the snap around the handle of a wooden spoon, forming a tube. Remove tube carefully from handle and lay on a dish to cool.Repeat until you have about 10 large brandy snaps.

Whip the cream until stiff and just before serving, carefully, using a small tea- spoon, stuff the cream into the tubes.

You can make them a few hours ahead and keep them in the fridge. Alternatively you can make the brandy snaps a day or two prior and keep them in an airtight container. Stuff them with cream an hour or so before serving.