Beans

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Beans, beans, the musical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel. Let’s have beans for every meal!

Beans Vs. Grains

While grains – and especially wheat – are often touted as the staff of life, I suspect that it was beans that really formed the backbone of many ancient civilizations. Unlike grains, many beans could be eaten raw, fresh off the vine, shelled or dried. They stored exceptionally well and were higher in protein. In fact, many ancient beans survived because of their storage qualities. Beans provide the essential amino acid lysine, which is low in many grains. They are loaded with fiber, and in diets where fresh fruits and vegetables were available only at certain times of the year, beans helped keep our ancestors from constipation. In terms of yield, planting 500 grain plants (rice, barley, oats, wheat) will give you about 15 pounds of edible food. The same amount of bean plants yields closer to 85 pounds. The spacing for both kinds of plants is the same – about six inches.

There are thousands of bean varieties. When John Withee – the Bean Man – tried to find the Jacob’s Cattle beans he remembered from his childhood to grow in his 1960s garden, he was not at first successful. So he started looking, not only for Jacob’s Cattle but for other varieties he remembered. By the time he died, his seed collection contained 1186 different varieties. Withee was also the driving force for Wanigan Associates, a group dedicated to saving, growing and sharing heirloom beans. When John died, he left his bean collection to the Seedsaver’s Exchange, which took over the job of growing, maintaining and sharing beans from Withee’s collection.

Beans Around the World

You can find beans in nearly any color, in pole, half runner and bush varieties. They vary from the thin, square-podded mung bean of bean sprout fame to the dense green ovals of favas and the creamy ivory of the famed Tarbais pole bean. Each cuisine known to humans has examples of specific beans that are an integral component of a particular famed dish. The French have the aforementioned Tarbais, Cocc de Paimpol and Lingot du Nord. In Italy, you’ll find Fagioli Bianchi di Rotonda, Fagiolo Cannellino di Atina, romano and borlotto beans. The English have fava or broad beans and love their runner beans (Painted Lady, a bicolor red and white, has been around since 1596 and was named for Queen Elizabeth I). Fava beans are also associated with Mediterranean cookery, although they probably originated in Afghanistan or the Himalayas. Every Native American culture has its traditional beans, from the tepary and Anasazi beans of the southwest American deserts and the Arikara Dry Yellow grown by the Mandan and the Arikara tribes of the Missouri Valley, to the Mayflower of the Iroquois. Mung, winged and adzuki beans originated in the Far East. In Africa, people ate the Iru or African locust bean, African Yellow or bambara groundnut beans and cowpeas – which are beans despite the name. Within each country, state and region there are many other varieties grown and prized by individuals, families, clans, tribes and ethnic groups for their taste, storage qualities, drought resistance or just because they were pretty. In addition, beans are self-pollinating annuals, so keeping varieties true across the centuries was not nearly as difficult as preserving something like broccoli or squash. With the advent of hybrid beans, the number of available bean varieties expanded yet again.

How to Grow Beans

Beans are very easy to grow. Bush beans typically produce one crop, after which you can pull them for something else in the same space. Pole beans grown for dried beans basically just need to be planted, watered and harvested, but they do tie up the ground for the full season. Pole beans do require stakes or a trellis, but the extra work means a longer productive period for fresh snap or shell beans. It also means double the harvest (pound for pound) of fresh beans compared to bush beans as long as you keep the vines picked and well-watered. While beans fix nitrogen in the ground, they will do better with added compost. I’ve never really had any major problems with insect pests, although I understand people in parts of the country where bean beetles abound would tell a different story.

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More Tomato Recipes

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Apologies for the lengthy silence. I had three staff members out, one of whom was my second RN. Even with 12-hour days I couldn’t keep up, and of course this all happened just as it was time to get the major spring planting done. Then hubby went out of town for what was supposed to be a four-day trip and wound up twice that…

Shortcut Skillet Sausage Lasagna

  • 1 Tbs lard
  • 16 ounces ground Italian sausage without casings
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup water, plus a little more if needed
  • 4 ounces uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 3 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend or mozzarella cheese

Heat lard in skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté and crumble until cooked through. Pour in tomatoes, marinara sauce and water. Bring to a rapid simmer. Break lasagna noodles into small pieces and stir into the skillet. There should be just enough liquid to cover the noodles. Add up to 1/2 c. more water if needed. Cook at a low boil for the recommended cooking time on your noodles, approximately 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in spinach a couple of handfuls at a time until slightly wilted. Stir in ricotta cheese and return to a simmer. Spread shredded cheese over the top, turn off heat and cover pan for 5-10 minutes to allow cheese to melt and sauce to thicken.

World’s Best Lasagna

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • ¾ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Preheat oven to 375 °F F. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Green Tomato-Pear Chutney

  • 8 pounds unripe green tomatoes, firm and free of blemishes
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 pounds firm-ripe pears
  • 3 to 4 serranos or other small hot chili
  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly pressed ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 3 pounds brown sugar
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups dried currants

Remove the stem core of each tomato and cut them into very thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. Layer the tomatoes in a large nonreactive bowl or pan, sprinkling a little salt over each layer and sprinkling all remaining salt over the final layer. Cover and set aside in a cool place or the refrigerator overnight.To finish the chutney, drain the tomatoes of all liquid that has gathered, pressing firmly on the tomatoes to help release the water. Put the tomatoes in a large nonreactive pot with a heavy bottom. Peel and core the pears and cut them into 1/4-inch lengthwise slices. Add the pears to pot with the tomatoes. Use a very sharp knife to score each serrano, cutting all the way through from the tip nearly to the stem end. Add the serranos, garlic, ginger, chipotle powder, brown sugar, vinegar and currants. Do not stir yet. Set the pot over a medium flame and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to very low, cover the pan and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and skim off any foam that has formed. Use a very large spoon to fold the ingredients together gently. Cover the pan and cook until the chutney is very thick, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, uncovering it and stirring it now and then. Be sure to have the heat very low so the ingredients in the bottom of the pot are not scorched. While the chutney cooks, sterilize 12 pint jars and their lids. Ladle the hot chutney into the hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head room at the top of each jar. Add the seals and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

All-Purpose Tomato Paste

  • 5 pounds ripe red tomatoes, washed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Cut the tomatoes through their hemispheres (not stem to blossom end) and use a teaspoon to remove the lobes of seeds and discard them. Put the tomato halves into a large sauté pan, add the salt and bay leaves and cook over medium heat to stew. Use a spoon to shift the tomatoes around as they release their juices and soften so that they cook evenly. Let the tomatoes stew, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft, their skins split and the bottom of the pan is nearly dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Discard the bay leaf and pass the tomatoes and any remaining juices through a food mill to make a purée. Alternatively, let the tomatoes cool until you can handle them, pluck off their skins and purée them in a food processor until smooth. Pour the purée into a large rimmed, ungreased baking sheet. Gently shake the pan to spread the sauce into a thin layer. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the surface cracks all over and sauce becomes so thick you can write your name in it, catching it before the edges darken, 60 to 75 minutes. Let the tomato paste cool. Portion it by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 2 hours until rock solid and store in the freezer in resealable bags. Alternatively, transfer the tomato paste into a quart-sized resealable freezer bag, squeezing out all the air. Press it flat and freeze to tear off pieces of the tomato paste as needed. For best quality, use within a year.

Green Tomato Marmalade

  • 5 lemons
  • 3 1/3 pounds green tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 ¾ pounds granulated sugar

Use a sharp peeler to remove lemon zest in long, thin strips, being careful not to remove any pith, then cut zest into thin strips. Fill a small pan with about 1 cup water, bring to the boil, add zest and simmer for two minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and reserve. Peel the pith from the lemons, removing as much as you can, then roughly chop the flesh, reserving the pips. Wrap them in a little circle of muslin and tie with kitchen string. Put the tomatoes into a preserving pan with the lemon zest and flesh, and sugar. Give it a good stir and leave to macerate overnight, then add the bag of pips and 2 cups water. Stir over a low heat until any remaining sugar crystals have dissolved. Raise the heat, bring to a rolling boil and boil until the setting point is reached – about 30-40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then pour into jars and seal.

Barbeque Sauce

  • 20 cups chopped, cored tomatoes (about 21 medium)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions (about 3 to 4 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp celery seeds
  • 1-1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tbsp ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, hot pepper flakes and celery seeds in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.Transfer mixture, working in batches, to a sieve placed over a glass or stainless steel bowl and press with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid and pulp. This can also be done using a food mill. Discard solids.Return liquid and pulp to saucepan. Add brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, mace, mustard, ginger and cinnamon. Return to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial barbecue sauce, about 30 minutes. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Crispy Parmesan Tomato Chips

  • 6 cups thinly sliced beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Gently drizzle and toss the sliced tomatoes in the olive oil to coat slices. Place slices onto dehydrator shelves or a baking pan. Don’t overlap. If you are baking instead of dehydrating, preheat oven to 200°F. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle mixture over each slice. Depending on how thick the slices of tomato are, dehydrating could take anywhere from 12-24 hours. If baking,check every 30 minutes until edges show some charring, which could take 4-5 hours.

Fresh Tomato Sauce I

  • 5 lbs fresh assorted tomatoes (or all plum tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil (or 1-2 teaspoon dried basil)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat your sauce pot with oil, then saute diced onions and minced garlic until soft (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from burner and set aside. Use a paring knife to carefully remove the hard tomato core. Roughly chop up tomatoes and add to pot with the onions and garlic.Add tomato paste and pinch of salt, let tomatoes simmer on LOW for up to 2 hours – stir often. When sauce is finished, season with salt to taste, add a dash of black pepper, and stir in chopped fresh basil.Cool sauce to room temperature, store in sealed mason jars or glass airtight containers and keep in fridge for 5-7 days or store in an airtight glass container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to reheat, let thaw for 2-3 hours. Then add to pot and reheat.

Fresh Tomato Sauce II

  • 5-8 very ripe tomatoes (plum, roma, round etc)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (chopped or minced)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • hot pepper flakes to taste
  • 3 cups cooked pasta (we prefer short pasta for this sauce)

Wash tomatoes and place in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit for approximately 10 minutes (should be easy to remove the skin, be careful because it is very hot). Remove skin and squeeze out excess water, remove seeds and any white or yellow flesh, cut into small pieces. In a medium-sized high sided frying pan add olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt, fresh chopped basil leaves and hot pepper flakes if desired. Mix together and then squish gently with a fork, cook uncovered on medium heat till thickened,(while the sauce is cooking occasionally gently squish with a wooden spoon or fork). Simmer for approximately 20 – 25 minutes. While sauce is cooking boil the water, add salt and cook pasta al dente. Add 3 cups of cooked short pasta and 1/2 ladle of pasta water to sauce, heat on medium/high heat for a couple of minutes gently tossing. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tomato Pesto

  • 8-10 medium sized ripe tomatoes (4 cups chopped)
  • 1/2-1 clove of garlic
  • 1-2 2 slices raw onion (if you have trouble eating raw onions try chives or green onions)
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons olive oil
  • dash of hot pepper flakes if desired
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups cooked pasta

Using either a blender, bullet or a food processor, add all ingredients (you may have to add half the ingredients if there is not enough room in your machine) except the Parmesan cheese.Blend until everything comes together, or until it reaches the desired texture. Makes approximately 1 3/4 cups, enough for 2 meals of 3 cups of cooked pasta. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Pan-Fried Tomatoes

  • 6 plum/San Marzano or Amish Paste tomatoes sliced lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (leaves removed and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil chopped

Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to cast iron skillet, place tomatoes in pan cut side up, sprinkle with oregano, basil, salt, chopped garlic and rosemary leaves and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and cook on medium low heat for approximately 10 minutes, remove cover and squish tomatoes with a fork, continue to cook uncovered until all moisture has evaporated and until tomatoes are browned underneath. Top with freshly chopped basil and serve immediately.

Cream of Tomato Soup

  • 7 cups whole or diced tomatoes packed in juice
  • 1 ½ Tbs brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 4 large shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • pinch allspice
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 Tbs brandy or sherry

Sprinkle drained tomatoes (save juice) with sugar and roast at 450 °F about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove and set aside. Cook shallots, tomato paste and allspice in butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are soft. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds; whisk in stock, reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Increase heat to medium, bring to boil, then simmer on low heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture into saucepan through strainer, put solids in blender, add one cup tomato liquid and blend until smooth. Add cream and warm over low heat about three minutes. Add brandy/sherry and serve.

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Tomato Recipes

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With all foods, the quality of the ingredients makes a big difference. That is especially true when you are using tomatoes and even more so when you are using them uncooked. Dishes like salsa, Caprese salad, fresh tomato sauce and panzella are nearly always good no matter what the tomato. Make panzella with a really excellent heirloom variety just off the vine, however, with top-notch olive oil, fresh herbs, the best sourdough bread and home-made mozzarella, and you will be sure you’ve died and gone to Paradise. It is in these cases that the simple becomes the sublime.

Tomato Corn Salad

  • 2 large chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 Tbs minced fresh basil or parsley
  • ¼ cup vinegar1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs prepared mustard

Mix first four ingredients in large bowl. Sauté corn in olive oil until tender, add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, add mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add to vegetable mixture and toss to coat. In the winter, you can make this with frozen corn; no need to saute, since the corn was cooked enough in the blanching process when frozen. Just let it defrost and proceed with the recipe.

Copy-Cat V-8 juice

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium-large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 beet, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 small cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • Celtic sea salt & pepper

Add olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add everything except cucumbers and parsley to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook on medium for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to help break down the vegetables. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce as desired. Allow to cool. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add parsley and 1 cucumber. Pulse 2-3 times just to break up the chunks of vegetables remaining. The consistency should be like a thick, chunky soup at this point. Add the remaining cucumber and blend for about 1 minute on high to get a nice, smooth, juice consistency. Chill.

Tomato Sandwich

  • Several slices of perfectly ripe tomato
  • Sliced bread of your choice
  • Mayonnaise (if you want to really make this a gourmet delight, use home-made)
  • Lots of napkins

Slather the bread with mayonnaise, cover with tomato slices and add salt and pepper if desired. Eat immediately, as the tomato juices will quickly turn the bread into soup if you let the sandwich sit.

Fresh Salsa I

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes on the vine, seeded, about 3–4 tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1–2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Celtic sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Taste for salt and acidity before serving. If it’s too acid, sprinkle on a little sugar.

Fresh Salsa II

  • ¼ small white or red onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound fresh, ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 to 3 jalapeño or serrano chiles, to taste, minced (and seeded, if you would like a milder salsa)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, more to taste
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional)
  • Celtic sea salt to taste

Place minced onion in a bowl and cover with cold water. Add vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes or longer. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir in onions. (If your tomatoes are full of flavor, you won’t need lime juice.) Ideally, let stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before eating so that flavors will blend and ripen.

Fresh Salsa III

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño, serrano, New Mexico or Anaheim peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, more to taste
  • Celtic sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the chopped onion and garlic in a strainer. Pour the boiling water over and then discard the water. Allow the chopped onion and garlic to fully cool and drain. Combine the drained onion and garlic with the chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and lime juice. Add salt and black pepper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors.

Panzella l

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 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 1/2 and thinly sliced
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons champagne 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 all the ingredients together. 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 liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Panzella ll

  • 1 pound rustic bread, cut or torn in 1-inch chunks
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds tomatoes, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • Celtic sea salt to taste
  • 3 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved length-wise and sliced thin
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Toss bread with 2 Tbs oil and toast in 400-degree oven until light golden, about 15-20 minutes. Toss tomatoes and salt, drain in colander for 15 minutes. Whisk dressing ingredients, add bread and toss to coat; let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. Stir in remaining ingredients; serve immediately.

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