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I’LL BE HONEST. My cooking has been complemented, a lot. And I love receiving complements. However, since I’m being honest, I’ll tell you I don’t often write recipes. I would much rather open a cookbook of my favorite culinary goddess and heroine, Ina Garten, and then prepare it, pass it off as my own, and bask in the rosy blush brought on by your too-kind words. I’m not sure the ability to follow directions constitutes a good cook, but I’ll take it.

Two of my most favorite recipes (and the two that have truly received the most complements) are from Ina Garten, and it didn’t occur to me until recently that one is a liquefied version of the other. Panzanella Salad and Summer Gazpacho Soup.

In Italy, Panzanella was historically centered around chunks of stale bread saturated with olive oil, and tossed with chopped tomatoes and red onions. This recipe has evolved from the original and replaced the stale bread chunks with croutons. The color of Panzanella is absolutely beautiful, and looks best when served in a big white or clear glass bowl. I love to bring Panzanella to a cookout in lieu of a traditional lettuce salad. It pairs well with anything slightly charred by the grill, and is a nice change from spinach salad with strawberry vinaigrette and goat cheese.

Unlike Panzanella, Gazpacho was “born” in southern Spain. Spanish cuisine, like Italian, is very seasonal which is why Gazpacho is typically eaten in the summer and served cold. My neighbor, Angie, makes a huge bowl of this on Sunday evenings, and then takes it to work with her for lunch during the summer.

Whether cooking for Brian and our boys, or sharing these recipes with friends, I think everyone can appreciate the delicious combination of simple flavors and vibrant color.

Ciao for nowLauren

Ingredients Panzanella Gazpacho
Orange Bell Pepper 1, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces 1, seeded and roughly chopped
Yellow Bell Pepper 1, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces 1, seeded and roughly chopped
Hothouse Cucumber 1, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces, unpeeled 1, seeded and roughly chopped, unpeeled
Cherry Tomatoes 1 pint, halved 1 pint
Red Onion OMIT 1/2, roughly chopped
Garlic 1 teaspoon, finely minced 3 cloves, finely minced
White Wine Vinegar OMIT 1/4 cup
Champagne Vinegar 3 tablespoons OMIT
Olive Oil 1/2 cup, 2 tablespoons 1/4 cup, more for drizzling
Country Grain Mustard 1/2 teaspoon OMIT
Basil 3 leaves, minced OMIT
Tomato Juice OMIT 23 ounces
Salt 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 tablespoon
Black Pepper 1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Black Pepper Parmesan Bread 2 1/2 cups, cut into 1″ cubes 4-6 slices


Directions for Gazpacho

Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Don’t over process.

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Lightly drizzle olive oil on the slices of bread and broil for a few minutes until golden.

Directions for Panzanella

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet and sauté cubes of bread for approximately 10 minutes, until golden brown. Add more oil if needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together garlic, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.

In a large clear or white bowl, combine vegetables, vinaigrette and croutons. Mix well and let sit for half an hour for flavors to combine.








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