Wednesday, May 26, 2010
My lovely readers, I know I have been away for a while. I have been traveling on a road trip for the last week with no internet access and therefore have been unable to update this site and read up on all my favorite blogs. I finally have internet access (woot!) now and I promise I will catch up on all the posts I have missed.
I also have some news...I got a job! Yes, in a few months, I will be finishing up graduate school and moving to the Midwest to teach at a small liberal arts college. I am excited and terrified at the same time. Happy and sad. Relieved and nervous. I'm definitely feeling a mix of emotions right now and this is only the start. It is crazy for me to think about how remarkably different my life will be in a few months, how so many changes are about to take place. And as excited as I am about this opportunity, I sometimes wish things wouldn't change.
I've spent the last 5 years of my life in California, and although I'm ready for a change, I know there are many things I will miss about this place. I've mentioned before how great the local farmer's market is here, and I feel almost at a loss when I think about not being able to have fresh and local produce all year long. The best thing about this farmer's market is the variety of produce stands avaialble. Sure there are the ridiculously pricey vendors who try to sell you a tiny basket of organic strawberries for $7, but there are also several vendors that sell pesticide-free produce at prices that are reasonable even for a cheap and poor graduate student like me.
Shopping at the farmer's market gives me opportunities to make things like this panzanella salad which was inspired by one of my favorite food sites. The original recipe called for asparagus and leeks, but I substituted spring garlic for the leeks and added fava beans. That is the beauty of this salad. It can be easily tweaked to accommodate whatever vegetable you're craving or, in my case, happens to be on sale!
Spring Panzanella Salad (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
For the croutons:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed (I used whole wheat)
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the vinaigrette:
Half a red onion, finely diced
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the salad:
2 cups shelled fava beans (from about 2 lbs of unshelled beans), steamed or blanched
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 bulbs spring garlic (optional)
1 19-ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
Preheat oven to 400°F.
To make bread cubes:
Mix the bread cubes with the garlic, olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to coat well. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
To make vinaigrette:
Whisk together red onion, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard in a small bowl.
To prepare salad:
Combine the beans, asparagus, spring garlic (if using), and white beans in a large bowl. Mix in bread cubes, pour in vinaigrette, and toss well.