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If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: Deconstruct gazpacho, and you get a Panzanella packed with summer's purest flavors.
My tendency towards indecision is, at times, paralyzing. So shopping at farmers markets in the summer is oddly stressful: seven types of berries, nine squash varietals, rows and rows of color. The possibilities are endless; my time and my budget are not.
My strategy for avoiding mid-July panic attacks is this:
1. Find a farmer that you like.
2. Make friends with said farmer.
3. Get your farmer friend to make all of your decisions for you.
When I lived in North Carolina, I visited Cindy each week at the market. I began to trust her. I knew all of her teenage sons by name. They would occasionally make eye contact with me. So when my midsummer inspiration was waning, I asked her what to do with all of these tomatoes and cucumbers and basil. She spoke of a basil-garlic paste, and chopped vegetables, and gazpacho.
This salad has evolved from that recommendation. It is gazpacho for those too lazy to grab their blender off the shelf. It is a salad for when you are bored of salads. It is basil and tomato together again, this time padded by soft pulls of bread and still-crunchy cucumbers.
Make it early in the day, and then serve to your friends in the evening after everything has marinated and your bowl is half-filled with a mixture of oil (use a lot of it) and tomato juice and basil essence.
If there's any left, save that vinaigrette. Use it for another salad. Pour it on whatever you like, and it will taste of summer. Just don't stress about it.
Serves 2 to 4
1 bunch basil, finely chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic
2 medium to large tomatoes, 1/2-inch dice
1 medium cucumber, 1/2-inch dice
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup good olive oil, or more, to taste
Half a loaf of good, crusty bread (ideally day-old)
Plenty of flaky salt
Photos by Eric Moran