Breaking Broken Bread

I really dislike being on video.  I feel I have a face and voice for the printed word, and I’m okay with that.

My friend Lisa Prince, though, is both adorable and engaging on the TV.

Every Friday during WRAL’s noon news, she, along with the equally adorable Brian Shrader, host Local Dish, which showcases North Carolina foods.

August’s theme is all about creative ways to use the NC produce available in late summer.

Because nothing and no one in my life is safe from being fodder for this column, I’ve had an ongoing request to shadow the preparation and filming of Local Dish.  Last week I spent three days hanging out watching the creation of five segments that will begin airing this Friday (8/2).

And proving, once again, what a truly nice person Lisa is, she gave me all the recipes and the permission to share.

Tuesday, I met her and her sister Michele at the Raleigh State Farmers market.  Our goal was to buy fresh ingredients for Chocolate zucchini cake, tomato upside down cornbread, a zesty leek Swiss chard soup, roasted eggplant, and panzanella salad.

Lisa’s sister, Michele putting cornbread in the oven of her beautiful kitchen.

Wednesday, we met at the filming location, Michele’s kitchen, and prepped enough ingredients to make a finished dish and create the dishes for the camera.

Thursday was filming day.  Brian and Lisa cooked for photographer Mark in a relaxed atmosphere that was full of laughter and lots of good food to sample.

I’d never actually eaten Panzanella salad because I’m not crazy about cucumbers and consider the idea of bread swimming in and soaking up all that juice highly suspect. 

When I’m wrong, my military father has always taught me to own it.  I’m owning this.  I was completely wrong about my prejudice toward Panzanella salad—or, at least Lisa’s Panzanella salad.

Tomato and Cucumber Panzanella Salad

(tentative air date-August 30)

(NC Ingredients: tomatoes, basil, cucumber, cheese – Category: Salad)

Servings: 2

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

1 large cucumber, peeled and de-seeded

1-pint grape tomatoes, mixed varieties, cut in half

4 slices crusty French bread cut into cubes

Salt and Pepper to taste

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, shredded

Cut the cumber long way and remove the seeds with a spoon. Then slice long way again and cut into cubes about the same size as the grape tomatoes that are cut in half. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes and bread. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle olive oil mixture onto salad and toss to coat. Add in the cheese and basil and gently toss to combine before serving.

Lisa’s Notes: This fresh light summer salad is perfect on a hot day. The flavors of the ingredients speak for themselves.

Brian (and I) were surprised that the bread used wasn’t toasted first.  But we both learned something that will change the Panzanella salad game forever.

If you’re not serving the salad for an hour or more, toast the bread.  The veggies will release lots of juice which the bread cubes will then suck up and become flavored with lots of garden-fresh flavors.

Brian wanted to use the torch and toast it himself…

But if you serve immediately after assembling, use fresh, soft bread.  It will be coated in liquid and flavored, but it won’t have time to absorb the juice and get gummy and unpleasant. 

And unpleasant is the last adjective I’d use to describe this delicious summery dish.

Thanks for your time, and thanks to Lisa, Brian, and the Local Dish crew for their time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

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