Getting to Know You

Dinner contribution: August 13, 2008

My week has been… more than a little crazy, but one very high point was Wednesday night’s getting-to-know-you barbecue with the lovely folks we rent from and the newest tenant at the house. Mike provided one of his fabulous grilled chickens, and I made two contributions. First, this white bean and red pepper dip with lots of fresh summer veggies – a little something to nosh on while the grilling took place (and while we enjoyed drinks and conversation).

Dinner contribution: August 13, 2008

My second contribution was something I was really happy with – a grilled bread panzanella with peaches and basil. I’ve been in love with the combination of peaches and basil since last summer, and have been even more in love with adding grilled wholegrain bread cubes to summer salads lately, so this was a natural combination of both. I dressed it in a mixture of good balsamic vinegar, some citrus champagne vinegar, local honey, sea salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and our very best olive oil, and it was a hit – a fun change from the standard tomato panzanella and definitely something I’ll make again.

Grilled Bread Salad with Peaches and Basil

3-4 1-inch thick slices of hearty multigrain boule (I used Seven Stars multigrain, but any hearty multi will do)
1-2 tablespoons each aged balsamic and champagne vinegar
Kosher or sea salt plus freshly ground black pepper
a heaping teaspoon of local honey
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to rub on the bread
2 fat ripe peaches
2 cups loosely packed whole basil leaves
flaky sea salt (like Maldon) for finishing

Rub the bread slices with olive oil on both sides and grill them over the cool side of a grill (you can also run them under a broiler or use a grill pan for this) until they are nicely toasted. Set aside to cool slightly, then cut into about 1 inch chunks. Add the vinegars to a large bowl with a good pinch of salt and several grindings of pepper. Whisk in the honey and the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Cut the peaches into chunks of about the same size as the bread cubes, and toss them with the dressing. Add the bread cubes and the basil leaves, tossing just before serving, and finishing with a sprinkle of flaky salt and additional pepper, if desired.

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6 thoughts on “Getting to Know You

  1. Margaret says:

    Jen,

    Please tell us if you are happy with your move to Rhode Island. I noticed that you are not blogging on your other site anymore. I love “Last Night’s Dinner” and look forward to each meal that you showcase. You have so much creativity with your meals as well as beautiful presentation. I think I speak for many of your readers when I say that you inspire me to cook and to try new things. Most of all I am finding that I care so much more about the quality of my ingredients and buying from local vendors.

    But I am dying to know………………..are you and Mike happy that you made the move from NYC to RI? How has it impacted your life and your health? What are the benefits and what are the things you miss? I know you are busy, but I would love to know if you and Mike are feeling positive about your relocation and change of jobs and lifestyle.

    All the best to you both. Love your blog!

    Margaret, Virginia Beach, VA

  2. Laura says:

    Thought you should know, you provided the inspiration (for the thousandth time) for the “peak season” feast I’m having tomorrow night with friends. I’ve been subsisting happily for days on bacon-egg-and-tomato sandwiches and somewhat ungodly quantities of watermelon, but I think it’s time for something a little cook-ier. So I’ve settled on the stuffed summer squash. It looks gorgeous and I can’t wait to give it a go. Of course, it’ll have to be served with tomatoes and watermelon. And possibly sweet corn. That’s the law in August, isn’t it?

    Anyway, thanks!

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