Friday, March 26, 2010

Pamzanella

It all began with stale bread, a lovely loaf of herb slab from the Acme Bakery that I forgot to serve with the beef stew. I hate it when that happens! So, here I was with a boatload of rapidly ossifying bread and My Beloved out of town on a business trip, so there was no one to help me eat it. Well, Cora would gladly help but my vet would have a fit.

Croutons are always a solution - and I made some - but there was still plenty of bread. Then, I remembered a wonderful chicken dish that I had at the Universal Café many moons ago, one that had a sort of bread salad underneath the succulent chicken, and that released my mind to think of bread as an ingredient rather than a side dish and that seemed like pure genius since we are trying to eat a meatless meal a week, anyway.

So, I looked over some quick recipes for panzanella but they all seemed to feature nice, ripe, summer tomatoes, an ingredient in very short supply in California del
Norte right now. I could have bought lots of ripe ones from Mexico where they have a more salubrious climate for tomatoes but then there's the whole "eat locally" thing. Sheesh!

Nothing to do but invent. I had half a small yam, a couple of fresh carrots, a leek that needed eating, two or three shallots, and a handful of fresh asparagus in the fridge. No tomatoes. So, cut up the yam and carrots into bite-size pieces, washed and sliced the leek into sections, peeled the shallots and left them whole, and snapped the ends off the asparagus. I tossed the veggies in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, put the carrots and yam pieces into a large baking pan and slid them into a 350 degree oven, setting the timer for 20 minutes.

While those veggies were roasting, I cubed some of the herbalicious bread and tossed it with a little olive oil, as well. When the timer rang, I added the bread cubes and the sliced leek to the roasting pan, stirred them around with the other veggies, and set the timer for another 10 minutes. When the bell rang again, I threw in the asparagus and stirred everything one more time. Five minutes later, the asparagus were still brightly green and a little crisp, the bread cubes had toasted nicely and the rest of the veggies were richly caramelized. The thinnest leeks had gone over to the crispy-chewy side, a great place to be if you're a leek.

The resulting plate was crunchy-crispy-chewy-sweet-mellow-and-caramely dinner for one, as good a solo dinner as I have ever made. All because I had too much bread.

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5 Comments:

Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

You forgot the bread?? *reels back in horror* :)

Friday, March 26, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

What a beautiful alternative! So healthful. And your method is fantastic. Did you think about using some dressing, to soften the bread?

Friday, March 26, 2010  
Blogger Greg said...

Took me a minute to get the Pamzanella. I am slow today. I looks so darn good and healthy to boot.

Friday, March 26, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Morgan, I know, I know. Get ready - this is what aging does to you.

Cookiecrumb, I did give it some thought - something with balsamic vinegar sounded good - but decided the crunch was actually a desirable characteristic. Might try the dressing next time, for variety, but the crunch was really fun. You can't hear yourself think when crunching.

Greg, well, and pretty corny. You are kind not to remark sharply.

Friday, March 26, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Crunchy = fun. Greg = corny.
(I thought "Pamzanella was clever.)

Friday, March 26, 2010  

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