summer peach panzanella

Twenty-six years old today - another trip around the sun complete! And that's pretty fitting as today also marks the solar eclipse. Also fitting for today is finally posting - on its one year anniversary - my recipe for summer peach panzanella. I made this up on a bit of a whim for my birthday party last year, and have been meaning to write it down pretty much every day since then. So, at long last, my favorite summertime salad! 

summer peach panzanella | planting my roots
summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

So much has changed since my last birthday. I've seen a best friend get married, said see ya later to a handful of dear friends as they started new chapters in their life, and made new friends along the way. Matt and I discovered a deep love for Carmel (and reaffirmed our love of burritos in San Francisco), explored Minneapolis by bike and discovered new corners (and restaurants!) of DC. There's been an election that has caused more than its fair share of turmoil, and as such, I've never participated in more marches, sent more letters, or made more calls to Congress.

I've totally - and officially - taken a deep dive into the world of food too. I've launched this very blog, become much more involved in efforts to support women in food thanks to Pineapple DC, and become completely enthralled with my Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. All of these have had such a massive impact on the way I eat, cook and think about food. And as a result of that deep down passion, I'm about to start a new chapter professionally, so there's no doubt my 26th year will be filled with much more learning, food, new friends and mentors. 

summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

But, if there's at least any proof of the saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same," this recipe can be it. I've been making a variation of it since last year and it never disappoints. The blend of juicy peaches with creamy, rich poppy seed dressing alone is perfect, but pairing it with red onion and goat cheese is just out of this world. I promise this isn't a sponsored post, but Brianna's Rich Poppy Seed dressing is the only one I'll spend money on. For any other salad, I'll make my own balsamic but this one is worth the $$$! 

summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

This recipe makes excellent use of a cast iron skillet too. First, you'll want to lightly toast bite-size chunks of bread. You can use fresh or day old bread here. In this case, I was using fresh bread that I had baked the previous day. And truly, any kind of bread will do. This was just a basic white bread, but I imagine sourdough would work wonderfully. Rye would also probably be pretty tasty with this flavor combination! After toasting the bread, then you'll cook the peaches in your skillet. They get browned in a mix of honey, extra virgin olive oil and salt. 

summer peach panzanella || planting my roots

From one year to the next, I wouldn't mind at all having it as a staple at each and every birthday dinner. it time for cake yet?

summer peach panzanella | planting my roots

Summer Peach Panzanella

serves 2

what you'll need:

1 thick slice of bread, cut into bite size cubes
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large handfuls arugula
1 peach, cut into large chunks
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
heavy 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 tbsp honey
non-stick spray
small handful fresh basil leaves, julienned, optional
Brianna's Home Style Rich Poppy Seed dressing, to taste

what you'll do:

  1. In small bowl, toss bread cubes with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Pour coated bread cubes onto cast iron skillet and toast until golden brown (about 6-7 minutes). Toss occasionally to brown all sides equally but be careful not to burn. Remove from skillet and set aside. 
  2. While you let skillet cool for a few minutes, in a small bowl toss peach chunks with honey, remaining extra virgin olive oil (1/2 tbsp) and a pinch of kosher salt. Spray cast iron skillet with non-stick spray, then pour peaches onto skillet. Cook peaches over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss as they cook to ensure they don't burn. Remove from skillet and set aside. 
  3. In large bowl, toss arugula with basil, red onion, goat cheese, toasted bread and peaches. Either mix poppy seed dressing directly into serving bowl or serve dressing separately. 

quick pickle stacked sandwich

mastering the art of pickling has been on my bucket list for nearly two years now. but, i'm not the most patient person in the world, so i've settled for quick pickle recipes as kinda, sorta checking this skill off my list. also, until i move out of my one bedroom apartment, i have a feeling space will continue to hold me back from shelves and shelves of pickled and preserved foods...le sigh. 

so, what is quick pickling? it's a super simple shortcut to getting the tang, brine and crunch we love in pickled foods, but doing it in just a few hours. starting to quick pickle is a slippery slope, though, so don't say i didn't warn you. once i learned how to do red onions (thanks, bon appetit!), next it was multicolored carrots...then it was cauliflower...then it was radishes. i couldn't look at crunchy vegetable without instantly becoming a portlandia episode of "we can pickle that!" irl. 

quick pickled radishes || planting my roots
quick pickle radishes || planting my roots

all you need on hand is the vegetable of your choice (in this case, radishes), a vinegar, such as white or apple cider vinegar, your preferred spices/herbs and white sugar. for my herb/spice mix, i really like ball's mixed pickling spice, which will only set you back about $4 and makes this process even quicker. i really like ginger for pickled carrots, for example, but use no spices/herbs at all for pickled red onion. the complexity and flavor is totally up to you, and thekitchn has a great guide to some flavor combinations. 

recipes range from calling for a few days until quick pickles are ready to just 20 minutes. for this sandwich, i let the radishes sit for about 5 hours, but i think ideally you should wait at least 24 hours to really let the vinegar do its magic. you'll be rewarded with a hot pink bounty of veggies.

pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots
pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots

to complement the peppery radishes, i've layered cumin- and garlic-roasted sweet potato rounds, smooth hummus, coarse dijon mustard and fresh spinach. if you have extra hummus on hand, you can use it as a dip for the pickled radishes, as well as the sweet potato rounds if you crisp them up a bit longer in the oven.

all in all, this sandwich is bursting with flavor and color, and makes for a wonderful lunchtime toast. it's also a testament to DIY cooking, as nearly every single element of this sandwich was homemade - from the bread to the picked radishes, and everything in between. short of growing the spinach and making the mustard yourself, there's a lot of homemade pride packed into each layer.

pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots

quick pickle radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich

makes two sandwiches or four toasts

what you'll need:

for quick pickle radish:
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp pickling spices
1/3 cup white sugar
6-7 radishes, thinly sliced (8 oz)

for sweet potato rounds:
2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

for rest of sandwich/toast:
4 slices of good bread (stacked for sandwich, open face for toast)
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup hummus, store-bought or homemade recipe here
4 tbsp coarse dijon mustard
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

what you'll do: 

to prepare quick pickle radishes:

  1. to make pickling liquid, pour 1 cup water, white vinegar, pickling spices and sugar into small saucepan. over medium heat, whisk until sugar dissolves. 
  2. pour pickling liquid into clean glass jar over radishes. let sit on counter until cool, then move to fridge to rest for at least 5 hours.

to prepare sweet potato rounds:

  1. in a large sauce pan, dump in sweet potatoes rounds and cover with water. heat water to 160° fahrenheit. keep this heat consistent as you cover and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. while sweet potatoes rest in water, place oven rack in upper middle positions. preheat oven to 400° fahrenheit. drain sweet potatoes, then pour into large bowl. toss with extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin and kosher salt and black pepper, adjusting for taste.
  3. pour sweet potatoes across a baking sheet in single layer and roast until bottom side is browned, about 30 minutes. remove from oven and carefully flip each sweet potato round to the other side. place back in oven and roast for about 15-20 more minutes.
  4. remove from oven and let cool.

to assemble sandwich/toasts:

  1. lightly toast all four slices of bread in a pan or cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil. toast until golden brown. remove from cast iron skillet, and layer hummus, coarse dijon mustard, spinach, sweet potato rounds and pickled radishes. layer on all four slices for toasts, or on just two slices for sandwiches.

purple power bowl

my go-to lunch this week is what i'm deeming "the purple power bowl." it's packed with color and nutrient-dense foods, and will power me through what i'm *hoping* will be a very empowering week. the purple comes from roasted purple sweet potatoes, quick pickle red onions and beet hummus. the purple elements are mixed into a bed of leafy greens and quinoa, and topped off with a drizzle of avocado dressing. if you prepare all the elements on a sunday night, it makes for a great work lunch throughout the week. i've broken out each element of the salad individually, so you can mix and match the components as you'd like.

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