This week I decided to make white bean basil hummus and panzanella. My friend Nicole Tringali Kempski shared the recipe for the hummus last year. I have made the hummus before, but I was inspired to make it again after I bought my first 2 basil plants of the season. YIPPEE! I had to go yesterday for my yearly mammogram…fun right? Well since I was on Hall Road, I decided to pop in to Nino Salvaggio’s. When we lived in our old house, I was a regular at Nino’s in St. Clair Shores. I used to love to go shopping, and let the kids pick out all the fresh fruit and veggies they wanted. Yes, Ryan used to actually eat veggies back then. ☺ For the last 7 years, however, I’ve switched to all organic fruits, veggies, eggs, and dairy. I am disappointed to admit that in a pinch, when I don’t have time to schlep it the 50 minutes it takes to get to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, I have used non organic cheese…GASP! I figure eating non organic cheese a few times a year won’t kill us right? Anyway, I haven’t been to Nino’s in a few years, so I decided to check it out. Nino’s is a beautiful place, but sadly, they do not offer much in the way of organic produce. So I decided just to pick up some basil plants, a few lemons, an Asiago cheese baguette, and some garlic. As I drove home, I was intoxicated by the heavenly aroma of basil that filled my car, so I decided to make the hummus. Then, while thinking about hummus and the basil that I’d use to make it, I decided to try making panzanella too. If you haven’t ever had it, you must definitely try it soon. It is a DELICIOUS Italian bread salad, made with fresh veggies, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I have eaten panzanella many times, but I have yet to make it at home. That said, if I wanted to make panzanella, I’d need to make another stop to pick up a few more ingredients. I swung in to Meijer as they always have the organic produce that I want. I picked up some tomatoes, a cucumber, and some organic basil. Yes I know I already bought basil plants from Nino’s, but they weren’t organic plants. Since they weren’t organic, I’d have to sacrifice the first 2 “harvestings” of the basil leaves as to ensure their cleanliness. As a side note, I usually buy organic basil plants from Whole Foods for my herb garden. As I mentioned above, however, I didn’t have the hour plus that it would take to make the trip. Anyway, I thought the Asiago baguette would be great in the salad, and after my trip to Meijer I had all the ingredients to make the panzanella.
Here is the recipe I used:
- 2 tomatoes cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cucumber cut into bite size pieces
- 1 clove of garlic finely minced
- 1 cup of fresh basil, torn into little pieces
- 2 TSB. dried minced onion
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 TBS. balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 of the Asiago baguette cut into bite size pieces (what you want here is a really good dense bakery style bread)
Mix all ingredients (except the bread) into a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour to give all the flavors a chance to marry. When ready to serve, add the bread and mix thoroughly so that all the bread is coated in the olive oil/balsamic dressing. YUM!
I did make a few substitutions to the traditional panzanella recipe. Traditional panzanella contains chunks of red onion. I do like red onion, but unfortunately it doesn’t like me, so I omitted it. To still get an “oniony” flavor, I added some dried minced onion to the recipe. Also, the salad doesn’t call for cheese, but I added some grated Asiago and a few chunks of Asiago to the panzanella. The result…asiago cheese equals heaven! Dan and Victoria raved about the panzanella, and actually requested I make another one tonight!
The hummus turned out great too. Here is the link to that recipe: http://weelicious.com/2011/03/14/white-bean-basil-hummus/
As I was making the panzanella, I was struck by how close this recipe is to fattoush. I love love love fattoush, and I eat it every chance I get. Fattoush is a Lebanese salad, that also uses (pita) bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and a really yummy dressing. In fact, as we were eating our super yummy dinner, Dan said “…this is like Italian fattoush.” ☺
These recipes made me really hungry for summer. It is so close I can almost taste it! After our fabulous dinner, we attended Victoria’s last orchestra concert for the year. It was awesome. In the next few weeks, Ryan and Dan have their last soccer game of the season, Victoria and I have our last Girl Scout meeting of the year, and I have my last Principal and parent group meetings. After that, summer is practically here. The kids are already talking about our annual “summer wish list,” and planning how to spend all their (and my) free time. I am excited about our summer plans too. I love the slower pace that we are able to assume. I love leisurely mornings, still wearing pajamas at lunch time, flip-flops, dinners on the deck, relaxing with a great book in the hammock, laundry that is mostly swimsuits and beach towels, and the scent of sunscreen that lingers on my children’s skin. Most of all I am looking forward to making some really great recipes with organic fruit, veggies, and herbs grown right here in my garden.
I hope you try these recipes, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.