Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Peach Season? Make Salad!

A simple salad made from the freshest summer ingredients is always a good idea on toasty summer days when you want something cool and refreshing but don't want to cook. Contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food goes classic-with-a-twist in this panzanella featuring fresh peaches.

Peach Panzanella

I came home from the weekend farmers' market with more peaches than I could eat, thanks to my friend Trevor from Baird Family Orchards. I'll be making some desserts soon, but first a savory twist using peaches instead of tomatoes in the classic Tuscan bread salad called panzanella. Like tomatoes, peaches are both sweet and acidic, and they can often be used where you might find tomatoes.

The thrifty Italians don't let anything edible go to waste, and panzanella was traditionally made with hard, stale bread soaked in water to soften, then squeezed to a soft pulp. I prefer to use fresh or slightly stale bread that's grilled or toasted, then cut into small cubes. It'll eventually soften as it absorbs the liquids in the salad.

You'll need roughly one peach for each slice of bread, maybe 4 of each for a salad to feed four to six people. But first thinly slice a red onion and soak it in a couple of tablespoons of Katz red wine vinegar [regular red wine vinegar works, too]. Cut the bread in to half-inch cubes, the peaches into bite-sized pieces. Tear or slice a good handful of basil leaves into thin strips. Combine everything in a large bowl, add a generous amount (maybe four tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil, a light pinch of salt (unlike Tuscan bread, ours will add some salt, so taste before adding) and some freshly ground black pepper. Mangia.

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