Panzanella Salad

July 20th, 2010

The only vegetables thriving in our garden right now are the tomatoes.   We have had very little rain so the squash and cucumbers have succumbed and the pepper plants are not producing blossoms.  In the spring the garden shows so much promise, but the vagaries of summer can dash one’s hopes for a bountiful harvest.  But the tomatoes are beautiful and we have been enjoying them on sandwiches and on toast for breakfast.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy tomatoes is in a panzanella salad and as luck would have it the Barefoot Blogger founder, Tara of Smells Like Home, has chosen one of Ina Garten’s panzanella salads as one of the BB recipes of the month.  She chose Ina’s Greek Panzanella and you can go here for the recipe.  That recipe includes calamata olives and feta cheese.  I chose to do Ina’s standard panzenlla salad which has no cheese, but lots of fresh garden vegetables, warm croutons to soak up the juices, and a garlic and mustard vinaigrette.  By the way I want to thank Tara for keeping the Barefoot Blogger’s website active and for tracking the 198,593 Friday night dinners we have cooked for Jeffrey.   You would think he would thank us.
I would also like to include this recipe in the Two for Tuesdays blog hop.  We are a group of bloggers who post about Real food and stress the importance of local, fresh, and unprocessed food.  Check out Girlichef’s blog for a listing of all of recipes for this Tuesday.
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread , cut into 1 inch cubes ( 6 cups )  I used a Sourdough baguette
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 3 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 red onion cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
For the Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan.  Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers.  Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
Note:  If you are not eating the whole salad in one sitting, add only half the croutons to half of the salad and reserve the rest separately for a second serving.  This will keep the croutons crispy the second time around.

Scalloped Tomatoes

June 29th, 2010

What a wonderful way to use fresh tomatoes from the garden! Unfortunately my tomatoes are not ripe yet, so I had to rely on plum tomatoes I purchased from the store. But as soon as mine turn from green to red they will be going into this casserole. The recipe comes from Ina Garten and is one of the Barefoot Blogger recipes of the month chosen by Josie of Pink Parsley Catering. I actually saw the episode of The Barefoot Contessa when she made this and knew it would be something that I would try, so thank you Josie for picking it.

There is another tomato casserole that I blogged about that comes from Mama Dip’s , an institution in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Although I love that casserole, it is almost dessert like in it’s sweetness. This casserole has just the right balance of acidic tomatoes, sugar and Parmesan cheese. The sourdough bread cubes I used in it absorbed all of the tomato juices and balanced the dish well.

Both Mama Dip and Ina Garten have a philosophy about food. Start with food that is real and food that is in season. Then prepare it simply so that the goodness that is inherent in it shines through. I am sending this post to the Two for Tuesdays blog hop. Hop on over and see all of the wonderful healthy recipes that the participants have provided this week. And check out what the other Barefoot Bloggers did with this wonderful scalloped tomato casserole.


Good olive oil
2 cups (1/2 inch diced) bread from a French boule (I used Sourdough)
16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot of warm.

Grilled Herb Shrimp with Mango Salsa

May 27th, 2010

It is Barefoot Blogger Thursday once again and this is a special one for me because it was my turn to pick the recipe from one of Ina Garten’s wonderful cookbooks. It did not take me long to make my selection. With the Memorial Day holiday just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to pick a grilling recipe. Grilled herb shrimp is just perfect. It can be found in Barefoot Contessa Parties! If you are planning on cooking burgers or steaks on the grill, the shrimp would make a great appetizer to cook before the rest of the meat goes on the barbie. Just add fewer shrimp per skewer. But it also makes a great meal on it’s own. It is easy and quick. The shrimp have a citrusy flavor from the lemon juice and the mustard and herbs add alot of flavor. Served with the mango salsa it is even better. The salsa has a sweet undertone with just a hint of a kick from the jalapeno pepper. I can think of no better way to celebrate the beginning of summer. Check out what the other Barefoot Bloggers did with this recipe. This is one of Ina’s “What’s not to love about that.” recipes.


3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small-diced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled (tails left on) and deveined

Mango Salsa (recipe follows)

Combine the garlic, onion, parsley, basil, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals, brush the grilling rack with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Skewer the shrimp. (I soaked the skewers in cold water for a few hours.) Ina used 5 to 6 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for a dinner serving. Grill the shrimp for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Serve with the Mango Salsa. This can also be done on a gas grill.


2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion (2 onions)
2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, and small-diced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves

Saute the olive oil, onions, and ginger in a large saute pan over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are transluscent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the mangos; reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes. Add the orange juice, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and jalapenos; cook for 10 more minutes, or until the orange juice is reduced, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and add the mint. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Here is a brief garden update. My first tomato looks wonderful. I can hardly wait for the tomato bounty.

As fast as squash grows, I expect to be making a squash casserole by next week.

Spring Green Risotto – The Barefoot Contessa

May 13th, 2010

This is a perfect Spring dish, especially if you have fresh peas, asparagus and chives. I can lay claim only to the chives from my herb garden. It is Barefoot Blogger Thursday and thanks goes to Kimberly of Indulge & Enjoy for choosing this recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook. Risottos are so versatile and I love the flavor combination in this version. It is full of leeks, fennel, the spring vegetables and a wonderful creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese and lemon. Risotto is inherently creamy so the mascarpone is just guilding the lily, but in a good way. It does require attention though, so be prepared to spend time at the stove stirring. It is very much worth it.


1/1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts ( 2 leeks )
1 cup choppped fennel
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 pound thin asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest ( 2 lemons )
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2 inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teasoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside off the heat for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies and Garden Update

April 30th, 2010

I am late with my Barefoot Blogger recipe this month but want to thank Cassandra of Foodie with Little Thyme for choosing this cookie recipe. We have had two cookie recipes this month and I am sure all of those with a sweet tooth are very pleased. But frankly, I hope that we have at least one savory recipe next month so that my scales will stop screaming at me. These cookies were very good and easy to make. For some reason my cookie dough was a little dry, so that the cookies crumbled when I rolled and pressed them. But that did not affect the buttery flavor. The coconut added a nice touch and you can get very creative with the jam that you use. All I had on hand was blueberry and raspberry. If you have apricot jam or orange marmalade it will give you a nice contrast with the raspberry jam if you do half of the cookies with each jam.

JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES ( The Barefoot Contessa )
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry and/or apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.
Here is an update on the community garden with the help of garden centers. The below picture shows the view we have of Hickory Nut Falls and the mesh enclosure that we put around our plot. We enclosed two plots because we are sharing time and materials with our friend Don.
Everything is in the ground now. Pole beans will climb the round fence rails. The marked rows contain sugar snap peas, rainbow chard, shallots and green onions. We have two hills of squash and tomato plants, pepper plants and cucumbers.

Hopefully we will be harvesting by July. The Friends of Hickory Nut Gorge Community Gardens have asked all of the participants to donate 10% of the harvest to charity.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.