Here are recipes for two summer salads that nourish and rejuvenate. The first is tabbouleh from Chef Alon Shaye, who leads the famous Denver restaurant Safta. The recipe includes his two-ingredient options (lemon peel instead of preserved lemon, for example).
Shaya’s tabbouleh sways in favor of parsley teetering over moist bulgur. (Typical tabbouleh recipes are closer to 50/50.) But that’s what makes it so refreshing. This and all that lemon.
I’ve been reformulating my panzanella recipe over the course of some summer now. Most panzanella recipes say, “Moisten stale bread with water, then squeeze out the excess.” Why leak something without taste? Use “water” from ripe tomatoes; It leaves its flavor behind, inside the bread where it belongs.
In the ancient Italian language, the “alzana” was a large, deep, oval-shaped basket woven from reeds. Zanella co-chosen this meaning to denote a large, deep serving dish, ideal for the “plate,” or bread, which is the backbone of a salad.
A good way to eat panzanella is to eat it with romaine leaves, abandoning the fork or spoon. As you wish, but keep the salad traditional and avoid extras like tuna, boiled eggs, celery or – mamma mia – mozzarella balls (seligin).
It’s not panzanella, then, just something else, sloppy.
Tabbouleh with lemon and preserved almonds
From “Shayea” by Alon Shaye (Knopf, 2018). Bharat is a mixture of sweet, earthy and warm spices common in the Middle East and North Africa. Serves 4-6.
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1⁄8 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon divided kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of bulgur
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped yellow lemon (or 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon peel)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon allspice (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground spices
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 quarts lightly packed fresh parsley leaves (from about 4 bunches)
- 1 cup roasted chopped almonds
- 1⁄4 red onion, finely chopped
Boil the water with 1/8 teaspoon salt (it won’t take long, since there is so little of it). Place the bulgur in a small heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, cover with plastic wrap or foil, and let rest until the water is completely absorbed, for 15 minutes or so. Roll it up with a fork and let it cool.
Whisk together the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, the juiced lemon (or lemon peel), allspice (or pumpkin pie spice), and allspice. Add olive oil while whisking to finish the seasoning.
Finely chop the parsley and toss in a large bowl with the bulgur, almonds and onions. Sprinkle in the sauce and mix by hand. Serve immediately.
- 2 cups toast (such as high-quality ciabatta or baguette), stale, if possible, portioned from the crusts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 medium red tomatoes, peeled and halved
- 1/2 sweet red or white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed with a pinch of sea salt
- 3 flat silver anchovies, drained
- 2 tablespoons salted capers, washed and squeezed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons high-quality red wine vinegar
- 1/2 yellow pepper, seeded, drained, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 cup Persian cucumber, partially peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 8 large leaves or 12-15 medium-sized fresh basil
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasting: In a slow oven (200 degrees), dry the bread cubes on the baking sheet for 20-25 minutes. If you’d like them to be golden, run the grill some distance from them for 10 minutes until done. We take it out of the oven and leave it aside and cool.
Prepare the tomatoes: With a fine sieve set over a large bowl, seed the tomatoes, and squeeze out their juice. Cut the pulp into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside. Discard the seeds from the strainer. Replace the pieces trapped in the sieve to continue draining. Keep the filtered “tomato water” in the bowl.
Prepare the onions: Place the sliced onions in a large bowl and cover 2 inches with cold water. Squeeze the onion in your hand vigorously 5 times. Drain them from the water (it will become milky) and repeat the rinse and squeeze 3 more times. After the final drying, collect them inside a kitchen towel, extracting as much water as possible. Spare.
Prepare the sauce: Make a paste of mashed garlic, anchovies, and capers, and grind them together using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a wooden spoon on the side of the bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar and a healthy pinch of salt to the dough. Mix well or stir well to mix. Add the bell pepper cut into the cucumber cubes and toss to coat with the seasoning. Sit aside.
In a very large bowl or deep plate, place the bread cubes and sprinkle generously of the reserved tomato water. Let the bread soak up the tomato water for 15 minutes, flipping it once or twice. Add the preserved tomato pieces, onion and sauce with pepper and cucumber. Suitable for salt.
Cut the basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle them over the panzanella. Mix everything together well and finish with the generous grinding of black pepper. serve.
NB: If the bread is too stale and remains dry after the liquids have soaked, spray it with extra virgin olive oil.
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