It’s August, and gardens are in full swing! Whether you have tomatoes or beans or broccoli or peppers, this quick salad is a great way to make use of whatever you have on hand. And to add a classic touch, how about tossing it with some fresh mozzarella and torn-up pieces of toasted tortilla? It’s an off-the-beaten-path way of recreating a classic Italian dish: panzanetta. Doubtless created as a way to make use of leftover bread that’s about to go (or has already gone) stale, panzanetta is an easy dish to throw together at the last minute. Its classic ingredients include mozzarella, fresh veggies, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. I’d contend that balsamic vinegar is another indispensable ingredient.
Rather than use chunks of white bread in the mix, I opted to take the whole-grain approach and rip up a toasted corn tortilla instead. Corn, after all, is an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine — it’s been prepared in the form of polenta since Roman times. And corn tortillas freeze well, so you can keep a bag of them in the freezer and make panzanetta whenever you like. Freshly toasted tortillas taste a lot better than stale bread!
Fresh-From-the-Garden Tortilla Panzanetta
This serves 2 for lunch, but double or triple the amounts as you wish.
Handful green beans, trimmed (I used a mix of yellow and green beans)
Several broccoli florets
2 whole-grain corn tortillas (my favorite brand is Food for Life)
Handful halved cherry tomatoes
1 bell pepper OR any mild pepper, chopped (I used banana peppers from my garden)
Fresh basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil*
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the beans and broccoli. Simmer for 3 minutes if you like your veggies crunchy or 5 minutes if you like them softer. While the veggies are simmering, place the tortillas in two separate small skillets. Heat over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side or until the tortillas are turning golden brown. (No oil needed! They’re best when dry-toasted.)
Drain the beans and broccoli well and toss with tomatoes and peppers. Add mozzarella, a few basil leaves, and a drizzle of oil and vinegar. Tear tortillas into rough bite-sized pieces and toss with the rest of the salad. Serve immediately.
* If you’d like to lend the dish a mild garlic flavor, cut a clove of garlic in half and let it sit in the oil overnight. Fish it out before drizzling on the oil the next day.
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