Happy September! For many, summer has officially ended and Fall has returned along with the start of school and cooler temperatures. I am jealous.You see, the born-and-raised East Coaster in me expects that September means change, a transition into something different than the June through August lazy days of summer. Scrolling through social media I see others posting about cooler temperatures and all that accompany it: hot drinks, long sleeves, changing leaves .
Yet, for as long as I have lived in Southern California, the hottest part of summer begins in August and ends in early October. Yep, September means soaring temperatures and heat waves. Where I live we are only now experiencing our first day below 95 degrees in a while. And the temperatures are set to go back up in less than a week.
So as I eagerly anticipate returning to cooler days in October, there are other transitions and changes to experience in the here and now.
The produce is beginning to change. Fruit is moving away from figs towards pears and grapes. Vegetables are becoming darker green and more cruciferous, but there are still plenty of the summer offerings.
I wanted to use a variety of the veggies I have on hand without heating up my kitchen too much so I opted for this adaptation on a Tuscan panzanella salad. This salad traditionally builds on stale bread with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar. But I wanted to make a version that would match the contents of my fridge.
Without any gluten- or corn-free bread around I started my salad with lightly boiled potatoes, this kept a flavor-absorbing starch as the hearty base. I leaned more into green vegetables than most panzanella salads do by adding fresh green beans, summer squash, and kale in equal parts to the potato.
To keep my adaptation in line with the original flavors, I used plenty of tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. Garlic, red onion, and balsamic vinegar added flavor that emerged subtly when served immediately after preparation. If I waited a day, these three flavors would shine. I added in hard boiled egg and threw in a chopped peach as an afterthought.
Overall, this is one of my favorite adaptable recipes. It is an easy hearty meal that doesn’t require a lot of heat-based preparation. I haven’t given proportions in the recipe below because I find that it varies based on personal taste. When in doubt, add a little of your seasoning or ingredient at a time; you can always increase the amount. If you’re not allergic to wheat or corn, bread is also a delicious ingredient.
What would you add into this salad?
- Summer squash
- Green beans
- Tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes cut in half)
- Garlic - to taste!
- Hard boiled eggs
- Basil - fresh
- Red onion - thinly sliced
- Olive Oil
- Splash of Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Sea Salt
- Chop the potatoes into small pieces and boil. At the same time, boil your eggs,
- Cut your summer squash into small, thin pieces. Snap the raw green beans into bite sized pieces, and tear your kale. Combine these ingredients in a large bowl with a generous pour of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a moderate splash of red wine vinegar. If you like, you can salt and pepper to taste at this time. Stir vigorously and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Add other ingredients as you go, I started with the garlic, crushing it and giving the ingredients another good stir.
- Cut the tomatoes, mozzarella, red onion, and eggs, adding into the salad.
- Chop the basil and also add in.
- Stir everything together. You can serve immediately or let sit for a while. The flavors will meld together and get better over time. My favorite time to eat this salad is the next day, but often I can’t wait that long!