While it may true that bread alone won’t satisfy our dietary needs, there are a lot of great breads that require very little added to make an amazing, soul satisfying meal. In my book, the best breads are chewy, have some decent air bubbles, and are not pre-sliced. I’ve found a wonderful supply of such bread at a French style bakery in Cashmere, Washington, Anjou Bakery . Their bread reminds me so much of the bakeries that littered Paris like Starbucks in Seattle.
A few weeks ago my husband and I stopped in there and came home with a loaf of their Wenatchee white and another of their Wenatchee white with kalamata olives. Amazingly, there was a small bit of the Wenatchee white still left in my bread drawer today, so I decided to make an Italian classic, Panzanella.
Panzanella is a referigerator cleaning out dish using up old bread and left over fresh produce. Why waste what you can use? In my fridge, I had seedless cucumber, red onion, mushrooms, kalamata olives, basil, flat leaf (Italian) parsley. Add some grape and roma tomatoes from my counter (I never put tomatoes in the fridge – they lose flavor) and oregano from my herb garden, olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh pepper and salt, chop, mix and voila, or prego as Italians would say, you’ve got dinner. Keep in mind, when I say olive oil, I mean enough to make a vinaigrette, same with the vinegar.
The wine I chose tonight is a classic Italian grape, Sangiovese, which I found at another Eastern Washington hot spot, Martin Scott Winery . If you’re in the Wenatchee area, make sure to stop by. Take your time and enjoy a glass of their great wine while marveling in their view of the Columbia River. Take a snack and sit a spell, smell the fields of lavendar and take a walk over to their “pond” before leaving. You’ll be glad you did.
I’m sure you can see why this salad is a fridge cleaner. If you have a big block of parmaggiano reggiano or peccorino romano, think about rough grating these in instead of feta. (*) You can fancy it up by using your veggie peeler to shave off large pieces to sprinkle on top. Or add pepperoncinis or pickled asparagus or artichoke hearts. Or maybe squeeze your tomatoes into the dish to give extra juice to soften the bread. If your bread is really dry, soak it in water for a minute and wring it out well. Or use fresh lemon juice instead of the vinegar. Whatever you do, enjoy your left overs and enjoy your life with an easy meal to eat alone or shared with friends, family, and wine.
* (Don’t buy that pre-grated stuff, you don’t know what you’re getting. If you don’t use these cheeses often, you can always keep a small block in your cheese drawer. If you use them regularly, like my family, you can get them very inexpensively in the jumbo size at Costco. You won’t be sorry and you’ll find they last forever in that same cheese drawer in a plastic bag.)