summer has finally arrived! better late than never, i guess. i’m not ready to start eating squash juuuust yet – not when the hottest day of the year fell on what was technically the first day of fall. i’m postponing the soups and braises for as long as i can, and following through on this last little desire to eat salads right through to the end – cause i know it’s going to be a rare thing once that first days of real cold weather hit.
this last burst of hot weather is a dream for me – not only because now i can maybe get a final tan to keep me looking alive until december, but also because tomatoes are still in season! this short burst of heat has helped tomatoes that otherwise would have died in the cold ripen and turn beautifully red and fulfil their destiny of being the perfect panzanella salad!
a panzanella salad was invented back in the day in italy, as a way of using up stale bread. it is said to be invented in tuscany, though it’s a pretty common dish throughout the mediterranean. panzanella was not based on tomatoes, like how it is today – it was originally made with just onions, with records describing basil and cucumber to be added in later years, with tomatoes being the last addition to what’s known as a proper panzanella salad today. (tomatoes were only brought to italy in the 20th century – i hate this fact tbh, but it’s true). today, a number of ingredients can be added including grilled veggies, olives, anchovies and the kitchen sink, but obviously florentine traditionalists frown upon them (us damn italians and our rules).
as much as i respect italian food traditions, i love to break them (with the exception of the pizza laws, those are sacred), and i added some beautifully ripe peaches to the mix. the result is the perfect: the tomatoes are almost as sweet as the peaches, with the balsamic vinegar adding just the right amount of bite. with the mix of red onion, sweet tomatoes and peaches and fragrant basil, it’s honestly summer in a bowl. if i close my eyes and take a bite, i can almost feel like i’m on the tuscan countryside. almost.
it’s the perfect summer evening meal paired with some fior di latte, proscuitto and white wine. i wish we could eat like this forever! join me in putting down the PSL’s for one more week, and embrace the last legs of summer – i promise you’re going to miss it in a few months.
peach tomato panzanella salad
1 large or 2 small heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 to 1 1/2 peaches, cut into chunks
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch basil, chopped
1 small baguette, torn into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
toss the bread chunks in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. toast for about 10-15 minutes in a 300 degree oven, until golden and crisp all the way through.
add bread and remaining ingredients to a bowl and toss well. let rest for 30 minutes then serve!
(yup, it’s that simple!)