14 February 2013

Peach Panzanella Salad

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Today I had indulgences on my mind.  After the feast of Fat Tuesday, this is the day of fasting.  Missing even one meal made me hyper-aware of all the food around me.  Coworkers bringing in snacks from nearby vendors, Valentine's treats beginning to find their way into the break room, even the notices at the gas pump proudly proclaiming "quick munchies" from the convenience store on my way home.  

I needed a break from the outside world until my fast would be broken and found some solitude down at my favorite bench at Poverty Bay.  For just a brief moment I meditated on the luxuries of my life, all the beautiful things and people I have been blessed with, and the experiences in life I have been gifted.  

So much gratitude.

My thought of indulgences harkened back briefly to a moment earlier this week when I was putting together a Peach Panzanella Salad.  Peaches are not in season right now.  Yet, I had this intense craving for them and stopped at three different markets before I even found a small fresh basket of them hidden in the produce section.  I pulled out a recipe from a while back at The First Mess and adapted it to my liking. 

On that little bench I gave myself permission to enjoy this salad and simply be thankful.

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The Shopping List (for the croutons):
  • Loaf of fresh bread
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • dash of salt and pepper
The Shopping List (for the salad):
  • 1 shallot
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 4 peaches
  • 4 stalks of kale
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • basil  to garnish
  • dash of salt and pepper
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First, start with creating the croutons.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Cut a fresh loaf of bread into large bite-sized pieces and place on a baking sheet.  I used a wheat lavain, but most soft breads will work.  Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over top and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Toss the bread on the sheet and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes, flipping the bread at the halfway point to bake evenly.  Pull them from the oven and let them cool while the salad is being prepped.  
On the stove top bring the vegetable broth to medium heat before adding in the quinoa.  Allow the quinoa to absorb all of the liquid before removing from the heat and fluffing.  Set to the side to cool. 

De-stem the kale and chop before putting it in a large bowl.  Cut up the tomatoes and peaches to bite sized pieces and add to the bowl.  Finally, chop the basil into smaller pieces and add to the salad.  Drizzle on the olive oil and balsamic vinegar before adding some more salt and pepper before giving it a good toss.  Mix in the cooled quinoa before topping off with the freshly made croutons.  

Allow the salad to sit for a bit (approximately 10-15 minutes) to soak in all the juices before serving.

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