Wednesday, September 24, 2008


For dinner I just finished a juicy hamburger with creamy mayo and a luscious, red, sweet-tart tomato I bought at the local farmers' market. A few weeks ago, my neighbor left a bag of softball-sized tomatoes on my porch. Two of them kept me in BLTs with mayo on toasted 12-grain bread for almost two weeks of lunches. The rest I chopped up for a panzanella salad.

I wish I measured when I made this but I don't. It just has to "look right". I add olive oil and red wine vinegar, a little chopped red onion, chopped fresh garlic and a chiffonade of basil.

This time, I chopped fresh tomatoes and seasoned them with a little salt and pepper. Usually I use canned tomatoes -- an excellent choice -- with their juice ready to soak into the bread, these tomatoes are canned at the peak of ripeness so they make this salad a hit all year. In fact, I have it in the spring before tomatoes are even coming on in local gardens.

I get some sort of Italian, French or country bread -- whatever looks good -- and slice it and toasted it to make it "stale". At Wal-mart I have found a log of fresh mozzarella that is prescored. When I dip up the salad into bowls, I tuck slices of it around the edges, sprinkled with a little black pepper.

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