Sunday, June 18, 2006

Boating on the San Francisco Bay

It's Tomato Season Start Day

photograph picture fred and sam and the recipe for tomato panzanella salad to take for lunch on the Bay

Sam's new season Tomato Panzanella salad against a backdrop of Angel Island and the San Francisco Bay

For more than six months of the year I don't eat tomatoes. I don't buy them fresh, I usually don't even buy them canned. If a restaurant sends me a winter or spring-time salad garnished with a slice of the red fruit, I just push it to one side and ignore it. When early tomatoes creep their way into the local farmers markets, I turn and look the other way, knowing that I need to hold out just a little bit longer.

Yesterday, woken prematurely at 4am by the early rising sun, and the promise of perfect, balmy, very non-San Francisco weather day ahead, I suddenly decided it must, surely, by now, be safe to eat tomatoes. I was at the market by 7.40 am. Fresh basil, beautiful deep red heirloom tomatoes, spring garlics, ripe avocado, fresh mozarella and young onions were soon filling my basket.

Lucky us, a friend of ours has a brand spanking new power boat. Whenever he invites us for a day out on the Bay, (he used to have a yacht), I always make sure to take something delicious for lunch. What could be better to mark the start of my personal Tomato Season than a Panzanella salad? I completely made up this salad as I was going along without consulting any books or researching panzanella traditions, so the result is far from authentic. But since the recipe was enthusiastically requested by my gracious hosts, I can only assume that they think sharing it might be worth my effort. It's totally easy, it can be knocked up in a few minutes. Just the thing for when you want to get out of the kitchen quickly into the rare sun...

Recipe for Sam's Tomato Panzanella Salad

1 loaf stale white artisanal bread
1 spring garlic (equivalent size one one fat garlc clove), minced.
1/4 cup of oil
salt and pepper
2 large, ripe, heirloom tomatoes
1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks
1 small purple torpedo onion, finely sliced
1 fresh buffalo mozarella, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup oil
salt and pepper


-preheat the oven to 350F
-Remove crusts from bread and discard.
-Tear or cut the bread into bite size chunks and put in a bowl
-Add 1.4 cup of olive oil, half of the garlic and season with salt and pepper.
-Mix the bread with the oil mixture using your hands until all the bread is coated.
-Transfer the bread to a baking sheet and bake until crispy and golden (about 10 minutes). Toss the bread about half way through the cooking time to ensure even colouring. Remove and leave to cool.
-Slice tomatoes and put in a bowl to one side with onion and remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper
-To make the dressing whisk together the vinegars and 1/2 cup olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
-Just before serving, mix together the bread, avocado, mozzarella with the dressing. Leave for five minutes to soak up the dressing before introducing the tomato mixture and then serve immediately.

Note: If you are taking this salad on a picnic, transport the various elements separately in your cooler and combine together at the very last minute.

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Sweet & Savory were my Bay Area Bloggers of the week

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Boating on the San Francisco Bay


  • At 18/6/06 11:13, Blogger Alanna Kellogg said…

    Love the photo montage ... still awaiting the first tomatoes here but panzanella won't be far behind!

  • At 18/6/06 11:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    these aged eyes of my find it difficult to read such small type. but this looks a good recipe I might try

  • At 18/6/06 14:06, Blogger Debra said…

    Perfect timing! I'm getting an article together for BlogHer on tomatoes (growing, storing and eating.) This sounds like one I'm going to have to try real soon.

  • At 18/6/06 14:46, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    6 months is quite impressive for non tomato eating :D

  • At 18/6/06 21:55, Blogger Catherine said…

    look at you, you jet-setter!

    I admire your restraint on the tomato front and the salad looks and sounds delish!

    I'm with your mum, though, that print is tiny!

  • At 18/6/06 23:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sounds delicious!

  • At 19/6/06 05:38, Blogger s'kat said…

    Yum, the first tomatoes of the season are unequivocally the best!

    The font looks fine from here on IE.

  • At 19/6/06 08:30, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmmm. I love panzanella of all stripes.

    I'm using Firefox on a PC, and the font looks fine. The only part that looks small to me is the photo caption (but not so small I can't read it).

  • At 19/6/06 09:42, Blogger Guy said…

    OoOOOO, neat!

    I remember anchored out there at Angel Island. I got ill and hunkered down on the deck. I think the swells were nearly a whopping 6". How'd you handle all that sloshing about?


  • At 19/6/06 11:37, Blogger Sam said…

    AK - i hope you dont have to wait too much longer - I never did find that rhubarb.

    Mum - we are not sure about the type size problem - it seems to be happening with some users and not othes. Trying to work out what it is.

    Debra - good timing!

    WMM - yes i impressed with myself - it's kind of harsh but it makes it all really worthwhile.

    catherine - have fun at your mum's!

    Pamela - when the tomatoes get good, it can't fail to be delicious. Nothing to do with me really.

    s'kat - when you deny yourself something for so long, it certainly makes the impact of the first taste so much more

    jennifer - thanks - sounds like you are seeing what I am seeing too

    Dr B - luckily it was pretty calm on saturday and that particular boat drives through the waves in a powerful fashion. I did chuck up a few years ago on his yacht though. Not nice. That will blame me for going sailing with a hangover. Never again.

  • At 19/6/06 23:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Now, see, I like tossing the whole thing together just before I leave the house - that means that the bread will have absorbed some of the juices of the tomatoes, as well as the vinegar and olive oil.

    The result is bread squares that are yielding but firm...

    I find myself salivating as I write this. And desperately sad that Dirty Girl won't have the best toms for a few weeks yet.

  • At 20/6/06 07:57, Blogger Sam said…

    Good point Fatemeh, - I find five minutes works ok too especially under these circumstances. The salad bowl wont fit in the cooler, and for the purposes of a boat and its tiny kitchen galley, and the rocking movement that occurs on the way to the picnic spot, keeping everything separate and chilled til the last minute was the only way. The bread wasnt in the cooler though. I love it when the bread soaks up the vinegar but remains crispy. I am also just much a fan of the heirlooms as I am the Dirty Girls and heirloom season is already pruducimg some really tasty specimens. I had one for lunch yesterday and I can only describe it as a sweet red jewel, the colour was so amazing.


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