If I can be cliché for a moment, summer is fleeting so quickly. I can’t believe how in the few weeks since the summer solstice, how quickly we’re losing daylight. I mean yes, the sun is now rising and setting at more reasonable hours but the change is noticeable, especially when it’s a reminder that the rainy gloom of a Pacific Northwest autumn will be here all too soon.
But I’m not done with summer yet.
Late summer brings gorgeous tomatoes like these sungold cherry babies. So sweet and an irresistible color too!
These tomatoes ended up being a pretty great muse for me, inspiring a dinner that was about breaking some ruts in our routine.
See normally when we have tomatoes, we eat tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and roasted broccoli– a crowd pleaser all around. That gave me the idea to put bread, cheese (fresh mozzarella pearls in this case,) and the halved cherry tomatoes together in a panzanella. After all, I love the combination of crusty bread that’s been fried in garlicky olive oil and topped with a juicy slice of summer tomatoes. Why not dice up that fried bread for a bread salad?
The salad would accompany bowls of roasted carrot soup and some roasted broccoli to get some green veg in, but at the last minute, I decided to add the broccoli directly to the panzanella to give the salad more crunch and substance.
And there you have it! With slivers of red onion and fresh basil and a dressing that I put together over the salad without mixing it first, this came together pretty quickly and was delicious. I think it was also a nice nod to the transition between late summer into fall: the tomatoes have that summer sweetness that no amount of greenhouse cultivation can achieve year round while the broccoli was hearty and nutty from roasting, reminiscent of comfort in colder weather meals. But what I liked best was how it felt freeing creatively for me, something that I don’t get to feel in my kitchen as much these days as work and kids keep me going to standbys that I know and can cook by rote.
And that inspiration also fired me up to change the look of my blog too. Hope you like it and this salad too!
Sungold Tomatoes and Roasted Broccoli Panzanella
1 medium head of broccoli, cut up into small florets
Salt and pepper
6 slices of country style bread or a crusty bread of your choice
2 large cloves of garlic
1 pint sungold cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a sheet pan, toss together the broccoli florets with a good drizzle (2-3 tbsp) olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20-30 mins, tossing occasionally, or until florets are tender and lightly browned in places. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
While broccoli is roasting, pour enough olive oil into a large skillet so that the oil is about 1/4 inch deep. Smash and peel your garlic cloves and add that to the pan then turn the heat up to medium. Turn your garlic cloves occasionally until lightly browned on all sides. Remove garlic from the pan.
Add the slices of bread– I like to place a slice in one at a time, flipping the bread over before adding the next slice to make sure each side gets evenly coated with oil. Once all slices are in the pan, toast the bread in the oil, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the bread is light brown, about 5-7 mins. Flip the bread and repeat. Sprinkle the bread with salt and remove from pan to cool. When cool enough to touch, cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.
Place the halved cherry tomatoes, roasted broccoli, mozzarella pearls, slivered red onion, and the basil in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine. Drizzle about 4 tbsp of olive oil, the red vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste then mix together again gently. Add 3/4 of the bread cubes and toss again then too with remaining bread and some more basil if you like. Serve immediately.
Makes 6-8 servings
CSA Count: 3 (sungold cherry tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil)
Kid rating (out of two empty plates): 1.25
Note for the working parent: It took me about 35 mins to put this all together, but if you want, you could roast the broccoli the night before, cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in your fridge overnight.