Category Archives: Recommendations

Cauliflower Fried Rice. Incredible. Vegan. Gluten free. Healthy. Who could ask for anything more?i

Speaking of cauliflower…

Were we? Of course we were. That vegetable Americans love to hate.

I can’t get over how many ways I’ve found to use this wonderful vegetable the rest of the world understands. So flavorful. So simple to use. So misunderstood.

I’m out to demystify this white (usually) head of tasty goodness. This time with an Asian twist.

Cauliflower fried rice. My wonderful partner served it up the other night with an “empty-the-veggie-bin” stir fry, and to speak the real truth, I liked it better than rice.

You will too.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

  • Ingredients:
    1. 1 medium head cauliflower, all green parts removed (2 1/2 cups cauliflower rice)
      2 tablespoons toasted dark sesame-seed oil
      1/2 medium onion, chopped medium
      1 large carrot, cubed
      2 garlic cloves, minced fine
      1 cup frozen edamame
      3/4 cup frozen peas
      2 eggs, lightly beaten
      4 tablespoons light soy sauce
      6 green onions, minced


      Shred the cauliflower with the large holes of a box grater or pulse in a food processor until the pieces resemble rice grains
      Heat 1tablespoon sesame oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot and stir fry until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, edamame, peas, and remaining sesame oil to the pan; stir fry quickly to cook the cauliflower to a soft (but not mushy) texture.
      Make a well in the middle, turn the heat down, and add he eggs. Stir gently and continuously until the eggs are fully cooked. Add the soy sauce and green onions, turn off the heat, toss to mix and serve immediately alone or with your favorite stir fry.

    Note: for the last add of soy sauce, you could make a mixture of 1 tablespoon each soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and oyster sauce for a slightly different, and most interesting flavor.

  • Roasted Curry and Cumin Cauliflower

    Cauliflower.The very mention of the word sends children running screaming into the night, right? To which I respond, “Good! More for me.” Inspired by the most wonderful small Indian restaurant in our town–that would be The Himalayan Curry and Grill on East Orange Street–and at the request of my sweetheart, who craves vegetables almost as much as I crave her, I found a most tasty, zesty, and bursting-with-flavor and aroma cauliflower recipe (truth be told, she found it, not I).

    But with a tiny bit of skill and knowledge I managed to make it even better that what it looked like on paper, and even more healthy.

    Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate–there doesn’t stem to be many take-it-or-leave-it opinions–so I decided to make it so deeply savory that even the doubters would not find it objectionable. It’s about the curry, actually, and of course there’s no shortage of opinions about curry, but that’s a discussion for another time.

    So…curried cauliflower. It’s a good marriage. As a soup it’s unparalleled. As a roasted vegetable, even better. So let’s get to it…

    Roasted Curry and Cumin Cauliflower


    1. 6 heaping cups cauliflower florets from 1-1/2 pound cauliflower cut into 1-inch florets
    1. 3 garlic cloves smashed
    2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1. 1 tsp turmeric
    1. 1 tsp ground cumin
    2. 1/2 teaspoon sweet curry
    3. 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
    1. Kosher salt to taste
    1. 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1. 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


      Preheat a convection oven to 425°F (if you don’t have one, heat a regular oven to 450°F). Cut the cauliflower florets into 1-inch pieces and combine with the garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.
      Sprinkle the turmeric, cumin, curry, pepper flakes, pepper, and salt over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread the cauliflower out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Keep the bowl handy.
      Roast for 10 minutes on a middle rack of the oven. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon the cauliflower back into the large bowl. Toss the florets well to turn and capture some of the seasoning left in the bowl. Return to the baking sheet and roast for another 10 minutes. Repeat the bowl-toss process and return to the oven, until browned on the edges and tender, 3-10 minutes more, depending on your oven. Don’t let the cauliflower burn, but a little bit of char is okay. Remove the from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve hot!

    Roast Chicken with Warm Bread Salad and Thai-style Pan-roasted Brussels Sprouts

    So, I’ve got to tell you folks, rchickenthat I have come across the most wonderful “dinner-for-four” menu, both in terms of pure wonderfulness and ease of preparation. I made this recipe for the family and then for company, and won raves both times–the shocking rave was the family one, considering just how picky some of the people in my family can be. Truth be told, “picky” doesn’t quite capture the general intransigence with which my cooking is often met. More often my productions at dinner time is met with a “why can’t you just make macaroni and cheese, like all my friends’ parents do?”

    To which I generally reply, “What the heck is macaroni and cheese?”

    To which the response usually is, “Daaaaaaaaaaaddddd!”

    But I digress…sprouts

    Roast chicken, as you know if you follow this space with any regularity, is not really a mystery to me, as I believe I have previously graced you with what I believe to be the easiest, foolproof-est, moistest, tastiest roast chicken, done in an hour start to finish–perfect for a quick weeknight supper. If you haven’t seen it here, then check below.  It’s here somewhere. Promise.

    This particular chicken presentation takes a bit more time and planning, but then if you’re cooking for company you might want to take the extra time and effort, and buy wonderful fresh ingredients. Your guests deserve it.  And so do you.

    So try this recipe, for a butterflied chicken with warm bread salad and Thai-style pan-roasted Brussels sprouts (that’s right, Brussels sprouts!  Even the kids liked them.

    Butterflied Chicken with Warm Bread Salad


    1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds) giblets discarded

    4 1-inch thick slices crusty country bread, bottom crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

    1/4 cup chicken broth

    6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil

    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons white balsamic or champagne vinegar

    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    3 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin

    2 tablespoons dried cranberries

    5 cups baby arugula


    1. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut through bones on either side of backbone; discard backbone. Do not trim off any excess fat or skin. Flip the chicken over and press down hard on the breastbone to flatten.  Or remove the breastbone entirely.
    2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Spray a 9  12 roasting pan with vegetable oil spray. Toss the bread with broth and 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the pieces are evenly moistened. Arrange the bread cubes in skillet in a single layer, with most of the crusted pieces near center, crust side up.
    3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place it, skin side up, on top of the bread cubes. Brush 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the chicken skin and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast until the skin is deep golden brown and the thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating halfway through.
    4. While chicken roasts, whisk vinegar, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Slowly whisk in the remaining ¼ cup oil. Stir in scallions and cranberries and set aside. Place the arugula in a large bowl.
    5. When done, transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Run a thin metal spatula under the bread to loosen from the bottom of the roasting pan. (The bread should be a mix of softened, golden-brown, and crunchy pieces.) Carve the chicken and whisk any accumulated juices into vinaigrette. Add bread and vinaigrette to the arugula and toss to evenly coat. Transfer salad to a serving platter and serve with the chicken. When carving the chicken, remove the legs, thighs, and wings. Remove the breasts whole from the breast bone and rib bones and cut the breasts crossways into 3/4-inch slices.


    Thai-Style Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts


    1 pound small (1- to 1 1/2-inches in diameter) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    1 medium-hot chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced fine

    2 teaspoons lime juice

    1 teaspoon fish sauce

    2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped

    2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro


    1.  Arrange Brussels sprouts in a single layer, cut sides down, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Drizzle oil evenly over sprouts. Cover skillet, place over medium-high heat, and cook until sprouts are bright green and cut sides have started to brown, about 5 minutes.
    2. Uncover and continue to cook until the cut sides of the sprouts are deeply and evenly browned and a paring knife slides in with little to no resistance, 2 to 3 minutes longer, adjusting the heat and moving the sprouts as necessary to prevent them from overbrowning. While the sprouts cook, combine the chile, lime juice, fish sauce, and ¼ teaspoon salt in small bowl.
    3. Off heat, add the chile mixture to the skillet and stir to evenly coat the sprouts. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a large plate, sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro, and serve.








    Ruby Red Grapefruit Marmalade

    C’mon, folks. Who doesn’t like marmalade?  I know, I know. Orange marmalade, an English tradition hasn’t quite captured America the way it  ought to.

    But I’m trying.P1030359

    I make orange marmalade. I also make other types too, including, famously, the Meyer Lemon marmalade that got me started on this mad adventure into  fruit and sugar cooking. I found an entry on one of Ellen’s Pinterest pages saying that she wished she had such a  product, so with a little research I ventured to attempt a batch of the bittersweet goodie, and it came out wonderful.

    And then, as my obsessive personality drives me, there was no looking back.

    Marmalade became an obsession. Navel oranges, Clementines, blood oranges, red grapefruits, Persian limes, Key limes–no citrus fruits are safe. I’ve made them all. Some are good, some are great (Ellen says the Key lime marmalade has no future, because the color just doesn’t look particularly appetizing, but it tastes terrific.

    In the meantime, my little jars of sunshine are turning up in the kitchens of friends and family, as they make wonderful gifts.

    Also the obsession has now leaked into chutneys, but I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime, I’ve had a request for a recipe, as one demented relative has suggested to me that red grapefruit marmalade matches well with hummus. I simply can’t imagine that, but I suppose that’s why they make cookbooks and cooking shows on TV–because there’s no end to the combinations of foods that intrepid chefs are willing to convince us to try. I guess that’s what keeps them in business.

    So, in that spirit, and without further ado, here is my red grapefruit marmalade recipe. It’s simple, so long as  you have lots of time on your hands and the patience to cut big fruits into tiny little pieces. I apparently do, and it pleases my wife no end (and isn’t that what life’s about anyway?):



    2 large pink or red grapefruits
    6 cups water
    5 cups sugar
    2 lemons


    Place the grapefruit in a large pot with ample water, so they are bobbing about, and boil for 2 hours, until they’re soft. (You may have to top up the water here and there.) Drain, cool a bit, slice the grapefruits thinly, and roughly chop as well. Remove any large seeds.

    Return everything to the pan, along with 5 cups of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons. Boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. With a candy thermometer at the ready, boil until the brew reaches 220 degrees F and holds that temperature for a minute. You can test to see if the setting point is reached. This is done by placing a teaspoon of the jam on a small plate and cooling it in the refrigerator. If the mixture thickens and creases when you press on it, it’s ready. If not, keep cooking and test again in a few minutes.  When you are testing, take the marmalade off the heat so it doesn’t overcook. Also, skim the bubbles from the marmalade as you cook – this will keep the finished product from becoming cloudy.  You can jar and process the marmalade at this point.  If not, use within one month.

    To can the marmalade, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water, and then place the jars in the canning pot so that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a boil , reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Then place the lid disks and rings in the hot water for at least five minutes before using. Fill the hot jars with marmalade, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe clean the rims of the jars, carefully set the lids on the jars and tighten to finger-tight. Allow the filled jars to sit on a wire rack until all the jars are filled. Then place them in the canning pot so that they are not touching each other and the water is at least 1 inch over the tops of the lids. Bring the water to a rapid boil, then set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer beeps turn the heat off, allow the jars to sit in the water for an additional five minutes, then carefully remove the jars and place them on a dry towel to cool. The lids should all pop inward and sound solid when tapped with a spoon. Allow them to sit untouched for 24 hours. If any of the lids don’t pop, refrigerate them and use within one month.



    Roasted Chicken Perfected

    I’ve been making this recipe forever. I just discovered that I have never posted it here. So here is, courtesy of my late, lamented Lancaster Sunday News and America’s Test Kitchen, the best AND simplest roasted chicken recipe you’ve ever seen.

    Roasting chicken: Everyone’s got an opinion

    The other night I wanted to roast a chicken.

    OK, OK. I know how to roast a chicken. Everyone does. So they think.

    I wanted to know how other people roast their chickens, so I turned to the Internet. I Googled “How to roast a chicken,” to see what I could learn. The results were, to say the least, surprising.

    I viewed each of the first 15 returns to my search and discovered 15 different ways to roast a chicken. No two were the same.

    You’d think that roasting a chicken is a simple task; simply season the chicken and stick it in the oven. Apparently, there are as many ways to roast a chicken as there are ways to, if you’ll pardon the expression, skin a cat. (And where did that idiotic metaphor come from?)

    Depending on which recipe you subscribe to, the oven gets preheated to anywhere from 325 degrees to 500 degrees. In my sample, each 25-degree increment was represented.

    I learned that the roasting pan gets some variation of onions, carrots, celery, leeks, potatoes, scallions, garlic, shallots, fennel, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, cabbage, bok choi, oranges, lemons, apples and pears.

    I discovered that the process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, and that the resting period after cooking can be anywhere from 20 minutes to no resting time at all.

    I learned to insert a meat thermometer during roasting, after roasting, or not at all, and that the temperatures registered on these devices could range anywhere from 115 to 185 degrees, depending on where and when you insert the thermometer.

    Crisp skin or no skin? Brined or not? Water or broth or wine (white or red?) or orange juice or ginger ale or nothing in the roasting pan? Garlic or no garlic? Herbs or spices? Stuffing? Gravy? Upright over a beer can? And then there was the matter of oven or grill. How about a rotisserie?

    It’s just so confusing. All I wanted was a roasted chicken.

    What I finally decided was to keep it simple. I want a roast chicken that is tasty, done but not overdone, and without a lot of muss or fuss.

    So naturally, I turned to my personal cooking bible, Cooks’ Illustrated, from America’s Test Kitchen. I can depend on them to have roasted about a zillion chickens, trying a zillion different methods, to determine which one is worthy of their publication (which I trust implicitly), and which is simple, direct and accessible.

    The important thing I knew going in was that my choice of chicken makes a huge difference. So I choose my chickens carefully. I prefer fresh, local chickens, from any of the fine chicken farmers here in Lancaster County.

    Today’s chicken came from the Shenk’s Poultry stand at Lancaster Central Market. It costs a little more than grocery-store chicken, but hey – I’m feeding my family, so it’s worth it to me to know that these are grass-fed, hormone-free chickens.

    So here it is, with a small twist or two of my own: my simple, foolproof version of the perfect roasted chicken.


    1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds

    1 tablespoon kosher salt

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 sprig fresh rosemary

    Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Place a 12-inch oven-safe skillet on the rack and preheat the oven to 450°F. (Turn on the exhaust fan!)

    Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat completely dry with paper towels.

    Rub the entire surface of the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with salt/pepper mixture and rub it in with your hands to coat the chicken evenly. Cut the rosemary sprig in half and insert both pieces into the cavity. Tuck the wing tips behind the back under the chicken.

    When the oven reaches the preheated temperature, place the chicken into the preheated skillet in the oven. Set the kitchen timer for 35 minutes and walk away. When the timer beeps, turn the oven off and set the timer for 35 minutes again and walk away.

    Do not, under any circumstances, open the oven.

    When the timer beeps the second time, transfer the chicken to a carving board and allow it to rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

    While the chicken rests, prepare a pan sauce. The pan will be very hot so handle it carefully.


    1 shallot, finely minced

    1 cup chicken broth

    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    2 tablespoons butter

    2 teaspoons fresh minced or 1 teaspoon dry tarragon

    2 teaspoons lemon juice

    2 teaspoons capers (optional)

    Freshly ground pepper, to taste

    Using a large kitchen spoon, remove all but one tablespoon of fat from the skillet, leaving the brown bits (the fond).

    Place the skillet over medium-high heat, add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and mustard, scraping the skillet bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the fond from the pan.

    Turn the heat down and simmer the broth until reduced by one-third, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, tarragon and lemon juice until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the capers and season with black pepper. Cover the pan to keep warm.

    After resting for 20 minutes, carve the chicken and serve with a spoonful of the pan sauce drizzled over each serving.

    If you opt for a grocery store chicken, it will be larger than fresh, local chickens, so increase the timer settings to 40-45 minutes roasting and 40-45 minutes with the oven turned off (depending on how much over 4 pounds your chicken is).

    Jeff Thal welcomes questions and comments at his blog,

    Brown Rice: Perfect Every time

    Do you like brown rice? Do you hesitate to make it because it’s time consuming, and half the time it comes out wrong? Too mushy or too hard, too runny or too sticky? And then you don’t do it again, because you’re unsure of the final product?

    Well let me ease your pain.

    This brown-rice recipe isn’t much fussier or time consuming than regular rice, its as easy to make, and healthier, tastier, and fluffier–all the reasons you want brown rice instead of white.

    I make a lot of brown rice; Liza wants it with almost every meal. So I needed to find a simple, foolproof recipe that was consistent. I tried a dozen recipe sources, and wouldn’t you know, I settled on Martha Stewart? I’ve honed it to, ahem, perfection. Martha’s recipe is three ingredients: rice, water, and salt. The amounts and the timing are different from what you think you need for rice, but it works.

    For my recipe I’ve replaced the rice with bouillon cubes, because I just like it better; it adds a note that just picks up the flavor of whatever you serve it with. But if you don’t want the extra flavor, replace the bouillon with 1/4 teaspoon of Morton’s or 1/2 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt. And trust me on the amounts and timing. It won’t seem right, but I guarantee success if you follow the recipe.

    Here then, is perfect-every-time brown rice…


    1 3/8 cup water

    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown rice

    2 Wyler’s bouillon cubes (chicken, vegetable, or beef)


    1. Rinse the rice in cold water, stirring and changing the water until it runs clear.

    2. Add the water to an enamel-coated cast-iron pan, turn the heat on to medium, crush the bouillon cubes (or add the kosher salt) into the water. Stir to mix, add the rice and stir once quickly.

    3. Cover and bring the pot to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to a low setting that keeps the pot at a very slow simmer. Give the rice one quick stir and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes (no more!). Remove from the heat.

    4. Quickly fluff the rice with a rubber spatula, replace the cover and allow the rice to steam, off the heat, for 10 minutes. Move the rice to a refrigerator-safe storage container and allow to cool to room temperature. Store for 3-4 days in the fridge or freeze in single servings in airtight zipper-close freezer bags (yup! It freezes, too, but defrost slowly, not in a microwave oven).

    Perfect every time.

    Pan-Seared Scallops and Risotto with Red Wine and Balsamic Vinegar Pan Sauce

    Red wine and scallops? Heresy!

    Or not.

    This one deserves a try, because A) it’s so damn simple; and B) because at the beach house it’s all I had on hand. What surprised me was just how quick and simple it was to make.

    Confession: we didn’t really make risotto–that’s way too fussy for beach cooking–rather in this case it was brown rice cooked a bit too long, then steeped off the stove for a while until it got mushy and gluey. But the pan sauce loosened it up a bit. At home I’d make a real Parmesan risotto with some shredded zucchini and fresh tomatoes (

    But the scallops are fresh and local here in Chincoteague, and the dish was perfect.

    Here’s the plan:


    1 pound fresh sea scallops (about 18)

    2 teaspoons Meyer lemon-infused olive oil (available at most good gourmet shops)

    1/2 cup red wine

    2 tablespoons premium Balsamic vinegar

    Old Bay seasoning

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Fresh chives or green onion


    1. Rinse well and pat dry the scallops–make sure they’re VERY DRY. Season with salt, pepper, and a very light dusting of Old Bay seasoning.

    2. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, then add half the olive oil and count to ten. Gently place half the scallops in the pan and sear three minutes without moving them; flip and sear the other side for two additional minutes. Remove to a plate and keep them in a warm oven. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and scallops.

    3. Turn the heat under the pan down to medium and add the wine and vinegar, stirring constantly to deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape up all the brown bits in the pan into the liquid–that’s where the magic happens. Reduce the pan sauce by half.

    Serve the scallops over the rice or risotto and drizzle with the pan sauce. Garnish with chopped chives.

    Tuna and White Bean Salad.

    I hate cooking in the summertime; but then, who doesn’t? I’m always looking for the next great cold salad. So imagine how thrilled I was to come across a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis that incorporates some of my favorite ingredients all in one dish. My rendition here is a bit different from Giada’s; I added and subtracted, mixed and matched, pushed and pulled, until I came up with a flavor profile that just knocks me out,

    Giada offers arugula in her recipe, and if that suits you, then fine. I made it with watercress, and really like the extra zing. You can also use a milder green, such as red- or green-leaf lettuce, if you prefer. But go easy on the greens for this one. The flavor of the herbs and oil and vinegars are the real stars of this dish.



    2 (6-ounce) cans premium-grade solid white tuna, packed in water

    2 (15-ounce) cans cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed

    1/3 cup small capers, nonpareil in brine, drained and rinsed

    4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    2 tablespoons premium-grade balsamic vinegar

    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    2 tablespoons garlic-infused EV olive oil (I make my own  *see note)

    Sea salt and fresh ground black AND white pepper

    1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

    3 scallions, green parts only, chopped

    1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper, no seeds

    2 cups fresh arugula or watercress

    1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (optional)

    4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

    6 fresh basil leaves


    1. In a large bowl, add the tuna, breaking into bite-size pieces with a large fork. Add the beans, chopped jalapeno, and capers.

    2. Into the bowl, add the olive oils and vinegars. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. Pour dressing on the tuna, bean and caper mixture and allow the flavors to infuse while slicing the vegetables.

    4. Add the onion, scallion, rosemary, and tomatoes to tuna mixture and toss gently. Adjust the taste with more salt and pepper, to taste.

    5. Place the greens on large a decorative platter and top with tuna mixture. Tear fresh basil leaves over the top, sprinkle with a bit more balsamic vinegar, and serve immediately.


    • Note:  Garlic-infused EV olive oil:  peel the cloves of 1 whole head of garlic, smash lightly, and place in a saucepan with 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Heat until the cloves begin to bubble. Then turn the heat down to medium low and sweat the garlic cloves until they JUST begin to lightly brown, about 30-35 minutes. Turn the heat off, and allow to cool completely.  Carefully strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove all the garlic pieces. Be sure to remove all the garlic pieces; this is important. Any remaining garlic pieces will grow bacteria. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

    Authentic Tuscan Panzanella

    Damn, but it’s hot out there. The Easiest Home-Made Bread You'll Ever MakeCan’t imagine heating up the kitchen on a day like this, and fortunately, I don’t have to.  I’ve got some wonderful things going for me here in Jeff’s Kitchen, and I can–will, tonight, produce about the best cold  salad in my repertoire, and one the family always looks forward to, because the ingredients are as good as it gets, fresh and tangy.

    It’s also true that this is one I can make with virtually all home-grown and/or homemade ingredients. I won’t dwell on the gory details of the garden out back, but you can make inferences of your own.

    It’s panzanella, an amazing Italian bread and cucumber salad, that I’ve adapted to fit the needs of our eating habits and likes.  You can grow the produce, bake the bread, whip it up in a flash on a hot summer day, and enjoy the fruits of your own hands, with style and substance.  This one is good enough to make for company. Which we’ve done, more than once.  I call it “authentic,” but I’ve actually added one non-authentic ingredient, because the one thing the recipe lacks is protein. Ergo garbanzo beans.

    Make it. You won’t be sorry.

    Tuscan Panzanella


    • 2 1/2 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into bite-sized piece
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
    •  3/4 pound ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups bread cubes
    • 1 seedless English cucumber, coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup dried and reconstituted or 1 can (drained) garbanzo beans
    • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
    • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped


    1. Place tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature to drain, tossing occasionally, while you toast the bread. Drain for a minimum of 15 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and firm but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

    3. Remove colander with tomatoes from bowl with tomato juice. Place colander with tomatoes in the sink. Add shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar to the bowl with tomato juice. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

    4. Combine toasted bread, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Add basil leaves. Toss everything to coat and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally until dressing is completely absorbed by bread.

    Anthony Bourdain’s Very First Column. R.I.P…With Love and Respect.

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