DSCN0911I’ve been in a slump recently. Not really a cooking slump, because I’ve made some pretty good stuff in the past week, but a blogging slump. Either I make something that tastes good but doesn’t photograph well (see above), or I don’t take pictures of something that was good all around. And maybe I experimented with coating some fish in coconut and it didn’t turn out well at all; nobody’s perfect.

I finally decided to post this panzanella recipe because I have another recipe I’ll post later, and I can cover up this picture I’m not crazy about. Despite the shoddy photography, this was actually a fantastic summer salad. The dressing was one of the best I’ve ever made because I added fresh garlic paste into it, which is a new thing for me. With just olive oil, red wine vinegar, hot sauce and a clove’s worth of garlic paste, the dressing really made the salad. For people who don’t like garlic as much, leave it out or reduce the amount significantly, because the garlic is really loud. I personally love garlic, and guess what – it goes well with bread.

That brings me to the thing that makes panzanella interesting: it’s a salad with bread! Panzanella follows the cardinal rule of great salads, which is, “add something to the salad that completely ruins the point of eating a salad.” All I did was pick out some vegetables I like, chop them up, cut up a sourdough round into cubes and invent (probably) this awesome salad dressing. So if you’re looking for a light summer meal with all the benefits of garlic bread, look no further.

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1/2 sourdough round or other thick, absorbent bread

1 cucumber

1 bell pepper

1 poblano pepper

1/2 vidalia onion

1 or 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice

1 garlic clove mashed to a paste


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut bread into cubes, put cubes onto a baking sheet and bake bread for 10-15 minutes until well-toasted.
  2. Cut vegetables into a large dice and add to a very large bowl. Add toasted bread to the bowl and toss all ingredients together.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, hot sauce and garlic paste until well-mixed. Pour dressing over the mixed vegetables and bread. You can eat your panzanella immediately or cover and refrigerate it for a few hours to let the flavors develop.

And now, prepare to enjoy a gallery of the coconut-crusted fish that I tried to make without a recipe. My first mistake was trying to crust a nice piece of fish like halibut in coconut. When you splurge on a protein, it’s generally not a good idea to try to get too fancy with it. My second mistake was trying to pan-fry something with a thick coating on it – for some reason, I’m not good at that and I need to do some more research before my next attempt. My third mistake was using sweetened coconut flakes, which I tried to balance with salt, but didn’t think about turning black from over-caramelization. Anyway, check it out: