Panzanella easily adapts to kid-friendly format

For the scores of us who swoon over summer tomatoes, there’s always bound to be at least one hater.

In my immediate vicinity, it’s my oldest son who skeptically eyes the barest sliver that I’m able to slice as a garnish for his plate. Meanwhile, his younger brother is scouring the cherry tomato plants for fruits that pass for any shade besides green.

It’s true that the kids’ pickiness compels me to make some adjustments in the kitchen. I’ve found that the best way to coerce them into trying as many new shapes and textures and flavors possible is to offer each individually, rather than combined as a cohesive dish. A compartmentalized plate emphasizes the separation of ingredients.

When we have a main-dish salad, for example, it’s easy to present the boys’ vegetables, fruits, fats, carbs and proteins in little piles. Then I just combine them adult-style for me and my husband. If all other foods are a mealtime fail, shrimp is among the few that save the day.

This traditional panzanella with the addition of grilled shrimp would perfectly fit my kid-friendly format. Instead of grilling, I’d probably saute the shellfish in garlic butter and sprinkle them with chopped Italian parsley. I also like whole leaves of Italian parsley in chopped salads like this one from the Chicago Tribune.

The panzanella formula also works with the impending bounty of fall produce. Think roasted winter squash and peppers with a denser bread, such as whole-wheat or rye. I’d pair that with feta or chevre cheese and a vinaigrette of chocolate-infused balsamic vinegar and roasted butternut squash seed oil that I’ve been saving for just the right dish.

Tribune News Service photo

Panzanella With Grilled Shrimp

In a large bowl, mix together 1 pound tomatoes, chopped in 1-inch pieces; 1 English cucumber, diced; and 1/2 cup diced sweet onion. Stir in 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar; season with salt. Stir in half a day-old baguette, cubed in bite-size pieces. Let mixture rest, stirring occasionally so bread can absorb vegetables’ juices.

Meanwhile, thread 1 pound shelled, deveined shrimp onto skewers. Brush with a little vegetable oil to prevent sticking; season with salt. Grill over medium heat, turning once, until just cooked through, for 4 minutes. Serve with salad.

Makes 4 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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