Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

It’s officially TOMATO SEASON!

Some would argue it’s been tomato season for a while, but for me… it’s just getting started!  I went to Whole Foods this weekend and they had all their beautiful tomatoes lined up.  The heirlooms, the romas, the ones on the vine.

All so pretty and so many different varieties coming home with me, including their AMAZING heirloom tomato salsa, which you can only find a few months of the year.

If you get a chance, go get some.  It’s life changing.

I picked up a bunch of heirloom grape tomatoes and a variety of colors with intent to re-create that amazing Panzanella salad that I ate in San Francisco at Zero Zero.

Thankfully, I have enough ingredients leftover to make another batch.  The vinaigrette is mustardy and flavorful, complementing the tomatoes and cucumbers so incredibly well.  What makes a Panzanella different than a traditional cucumber-tomato salad?  It’s the bread… the ciabatta croutons in this salad are insanely delish.  As a bread lover, the croutons MAKE the salad.

This salad was my dinner on Saturday night paired with two slices of fresh mozzarella; however, I’ve written the recipe below as a side dish, so you can share with your friends and family.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

Inspired by Zero Zero, San Francisco

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups heirloom grape tomatoes, halved

1 medium cucumber, quartered

1/4 red onion, diced

3 basil leaves, chiffonade

1 ciabatta roll

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Vinaigrette

salt

pepper

1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

1 1/2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Combine dijon mustard, garlic, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a small bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Note:  I used an amazing Sun Valley Sweet Garlic Mustard I sampled at Whole Foods on Saturday, but you can really use any kind of mustard that you like.

2.  Separately, heat 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet.  Add your ciabatta cubes, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss in the olive oil and cook until lightly toasted and the olive oil absorbs.  Remove from heat.

3.  Dice your cucumber, half you tomatoes, and mince your onion.

4.  Chiffonade your basil.  Rolling the leaves and then cutting them into thin slices.

5.  Add all the veggies and basil to a large bowl.

6.  Add croutons.

7.  Toss with the vinaigrette.

8.  Move to a serving dish, and enjoy!

Per 1/4 recipe serving:

CAL 153; CARB 26g; FAT 4g; PROT 5g; FIB 2g; WW Points Plus: 4

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Green Gazpacho

I haven’t done any cooking in weeks.  It’s crazy.  I’ve been so distracted by the competition in San Francisco and the events that took place since that I’ve had very little appetite.

Yeah… you heard me right, no appetite.

I’ve been just swinging by Subway most nights on the way home from the gym, or cooking a quick Jenny Craig meal.  Just to get something in my body, not really interested in eating.

With a new week ahead, I decided to get back in the kitchen and whipped up this amazing soup to take to work as a snack.  If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know I LOVE gazpacho… but this one is quite different, you’ll see…

While I’ve made Firefly’s Tomato Gazpacho and my friend Alecia’s amazing Watermelon Gazpacho, the idea of a GREEN Gazpacho caught my eye!  What makes it even more interesting is that there’s not a single tomato in this batch!  And… it has that secret ingredient that I love so much:  AVOCADO.

The recipe as a whole is incredibly easy to whip up, and the flavor and fragrance  is insane.  You’re going to love it!

Green Gazpacho 

From Budget Bytes

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 medium cucumbers

1 medium white onion

1 medium green bell pepper

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 medium avocado

¼ bunch fresh parsley

¼ bunch fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Remove the ends from the cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds out with a spoon and then chop the cucumber into chunks.

2.  Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and also cut it into chunks. Dice the onion.

3.  Add the cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and garlic (peeled) to a food processor. Process until the vegetables are minced.

4.  Slice your avocado.  Note:  Need help picking out a ripe (but not too ripe) avocado?  If you remove the stem, it should be this color.  If it’s brown, it’s over-ripe.

5.  Pull the leaves from about ¼ of the parsley and cilantro bunches. Add the leaves to the food processor along with the olive oil and the flesh from the avocado. Purée until smooth.

6.  Add the water, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and one teaspoon of salt. Puree until smooth again. Taste the soup and adjust the salt or lemon juice if desired.

7.  Serve immediately.  Serve immediately or chill until ready to eat.

Per 1/2 cup serving:

CAL 99; CARB 7g; FAT 8g; PROT 2g; FIB 2g; WW Points Plus: 3

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What I Eat

One of the asks from my Blogtastic Blogiversary survey way back when was to share what I eat on a daily basis.

Yesterday, I REALLY tried to capture all my eats… but I suppose I’m just not disciplined enough to make it happen.  After I had my carrot sticks in the afternoon, I realized they were all gone and unavailable for a pic.  Here’s two pics that made the cut.  Yeah… I am terrible at the whole WIAW thing that so many bloggers do.

I managed to snap a pic of my Veggie Delite moments before I devoured it…

Last night’s dinner was 1/2 cup of Skinnytaste Crockpot Bolognese and 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa – - LOVE that Bolognese!

So, rather than giving you the play by play of what I ate yesterday, I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I grocery shop each week.  There’s two different goals I have when I go to the store:  1) To pick up ingredients for recipes  2) Buy the staples

Meal Planning

Meal planning is not my strength.  I’ve made plans before, and then… I decide I’m in the mood for something else and deviate.  It’s what I do.  I try to keep my plans pretty flexible as a result.  I’ve also learned from my sister-in-law Beth to plan for recipes that kind of complement one another and ones that have similar ingredients.

For example, I could make these three dishes on the same week because they contain common ingredients: tomatoes, avocados, onions….

I keep a list of items that I need to replenish on my smartphone because I always have that handy.  I use an app called Evernote, that also links to my iPad so that I can constantly add it to whatever device I’m using.  I use Evernote for to-do lists, Christmas gift shopping lists, etc… LOVE that App!

Staple Shopping

There are a few things I pick up every single week at the store.  I am a creature of habit, but moreso… I NEED SNACKS!  If I don’t have snacks ready to go, it can get REALLY scary at my house and my car can do crazy things like DRIVE THRU on the way home from work.  No one wants that to happen!
Here’s a breakdown of what ended up in the cart this week….

  • Cheese Sticks – I must have been craving cheese.  This is a rare purchase, and can take me months to eat… but they’re the cheddar mozzarella mix.  Pretty tasty snack!
  • Asparagus – It was on sale.  I ended up with both WHITE and GREEN.  After eating it at LaDawn and Dana’s on Easter, I have a taste for it and just want more!  Roasted, these make for GREAT sides.

Roasted White Asparagus… Yum-O!

  • Cucumbers - Quite possibly the most perfect veggie, I eat the heck out of these too… I prep them on the weekends so I have them ready to nosh on… I prefer English Cucumbers to the regular ones.
  • Bananas - I’ve been eating bananas for my mid-morning snack lately.  Love them.  Unfortunately, I like them on the greener side… so, again, a small bunch.
  • Apples and Pears – I take either an apple or a pear with me every day to work as a snack.  SO GOOD.  I bought four.  I usually only buy enough for the week, so they don’t go bad… Trying a new kind of apple my boss recommended this week:  Pacific Rose.  We’ll see how it stands up to my favorite Honeycrisp.  Note:  Does anyone remember when fruit was my nemesis when I first started Jenny??

I’ve started displaying my fruit in the kitchen to tempt myself to eat it! Using that new cake plate I bought for the Gooey Butter Cake

  • Grape Tomatoes - Another great snack, I literally eat these like grapes.  I fill a little bag and take them to work for snacks some days and toss them in salads on others.
  • Butter Lettuce – I truly believe it’s the most superior of all lettuces… I bought two BIG containers of butter lettuce.  Eating them this week with a favorite vinaigrette that I need to share with you guys at some point…
  • Lean Cuisine Lemon Chicken – I bought two of these… I just really liked it when I tried it last week.  Try it!

Note:  This list is missing one of my favorite weekly snacks… BEETS!  But, I went to the wrong store this week.  They’ll be back on the counter and in the snack bag next week!

Tell me about your grocery shopping.  What must-haves to do you pick up every week?

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Creamy Avocado Tomato Cucumber Salad

One of my co-workers recently described a salad that she ate that she thought I might like.

Keep in mind, she’s seen me eating my roasted beets at lunch, and eat veggies and yogurt dip just about every day since I started there.  As a result, she knows I love my veggies… but I’m not sure she really realized how much I loved cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado.  Since it was a snowy weekend, it seemed like a good idea to make it while I was stuck in the house on Saturday.

This salad is a SUPER-SIMPLE amazing combination that I think is going to become my BFF come summertime, and frankly… I think we’re going to hang out throughout the spring too.  (I’ve already bought ingredients to make it again!)

It tastes like all the things I love about guacamole with all the fantastic flavor of my favorite cucumber-tomato salads I grew up on.  It also has a splash of balsamic that combines with the avocado to form a tasty dressing.

It’s the kind of recipe that I’ll make forever because it’s so easy to throw together.

Creamy Avocado Tomato Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 english cucumber, chopped and quartered

1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced

1/4 red onion, diced

1 avocado

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

freshly ground pepper

salt, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Chop your cucumber and add it to the bowl.  Note:  I use English cucumbers because they have great flavor and less seeds.  Also, save time and don’t peel your cucumber for this salad.  Instead, just wash the skin well.

2.  Slice your tomatoes in half, either lengthwise or across the thickest part like I did.  Toss them in the bowl.

3.  Dice your red onion and toss them into the bowl.

4.  Dice your beautiful avocado into chunks, and add it to the bowl.  Mix!

The most beautiful avocado I’ve ever purchased… perfectly ripe!

5.  Add 1 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar (more if desired.)

6.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

7.  Place your serving of salad in a bowl and get ready to be amazed!

Per 1/4 recipe serving:

CAL 52; CARB 8g; FAT 2g; PROT 1g; FIB 2g; WW Points Plus: 1

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