The Past Seven Days + RECIPE: Roasted Pepper & Cherry Tomato Panzanella

Our fields have been a bustling place this past week with more people stopping by in the span of a couple days than we usually get out here in a full season. Since last Wednesday, we have hosted a film crew*, a beautiful group of seven women, and a major fundraising dinner with 100 guests. An event company has come and gone, setting up and taking down a massive 40 by 40-foot tent with a dozen tables. A dynamo catering team of 15+ people descended on our farm Sunday afternoon to pull off one of the most impressive meals I have ever eaten.

It has been a truly beautiful week of collaboration, love, and gratitude– a truly beautiful week in celebration of nourishing our bodies, our communities, and our land. It has also been a whole heck of a lot for two rather introverted farmers to handle.

There is no denying the fact that the calmness of fall we were experiencing in early September definitely seems to be speeding up a bit as we balance resting after a whirlwind of a weekend with preparing for our CSA farm party this Saturday and our organic inspection a week after that. There are also storage veggies to get out of the ground and so many “last of” vegetables to enjoy and freeze before we head off on our anniversary camping trip on October 10th.

I’m cooking more than ever, desperate to eat one more bowl of cherry tomatoes, one more tomato pie, one more watermelon before we move into the world of storage crops, which though lovely, do get a bit dull.

This salad is such a celebration of the season we’re right in the midst of. It focuses on colored peppers and cherry tomatoes because I know they will be gone all too soon. We freeze a ton of peppers for winter, but there is nothing like a freshly picked sweet red pepper, roasted in the oven until blistered. It’s sweetness and velvety texture deserve room to shine.

Paired with some slightly sweetened vinegar, quickly pickled shallots and the last bright cherry tomatoes of summer, I could just nibble on this combination all day long. But then things go a bit further. Creamy mozzarella, crunchy freshly-made croutons, and spicy salami are all added to the bowl right before serving to make a dreamy Italian panzanella that has every combination of flavors and textures possible. It’s a recipe paired intentionally with a beautiful week at our farm because it’s a recipe that just like our past seven days does an excellent job of honoring, celebrating and loving this season we’re in.

-Your Leek

*The film crew was from Isthmus. Their Director of Videography is doing an amazing Food for Thought web series that pairs chefs and producers on their operations to collaborate while exploring issues of sustainability in the local food system. Our episode is all about CSA and will come out in late winter.

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ROASTED PEPPER & CHERRY TOMATO PANZANELLA
Adapted from Six Seasons

Takes 45 minutes
Serves 2-4

2 pounds red, orange or yellow sweet peppers
2 large, thick slices sourdough bread (about 4 ounces)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 shallot
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ounces salami, preferably a fancy artisan one with a lot of fennel seasoning
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

  1. Preheat your broilers.
  2. Place peppers on a baking sheet and broil them, turning occasionally, until the skins are blackened and blistered. It will take 10-12 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover with a towel or plate.
  3. Turn the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Tear bread into rough bite-size pieces and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, 10-20 minutes. Check every 5 minutes or so since every type of bread will take a different amount of time. When you check the croutons, also shake the pan to redistribute and get even browning on all sides. You want the croutons to have a crunchy exterior and soft middle.
  4. Once the croutons are done, peel the skins off the peppers, remove the seeds, and cut into thick 1-inch slices. Place in a large bowl with onion, garlic, vinegar, red pepper flakes, cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Toss to combine. Add salami and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, and toss again.
  5. Right before serving, add the croutons and mozzarella. Toss mixture once more before serving and enjoy!

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