My View // Littlegreenshed

Hello! I am Lou and I write a blog called Littlegreenshed.

Jen has asked me to guest post here today and write a little about what makes me happy or my inspirations.
I suppose when I think about it, having fresh home cooked food preferably using vegetables we have grown ourselves really does make me happy.  I love to see my two sons help me in the kitchen even it's just to shell the peas or help set the table.  

We are lucky to have our own allotment plot, as a family we love it there. Although this year has been a total washout on the harvest front. The rain and slugs have ruined what small crops we planted and this has left us disheartened. So our poor beloved lottie has been somewhat abandoned, but I have big plans for next years harvest.  

Thankfully we have a Greengrocer close to the boys school.  They stock a large selection of fruit and vegetables and do cater for people like me who prefer locally grown produce.  Popping to see what they have is always a joy, one week it could be artichokes and the next summer squash.

I love a good cook book. My favourite by far is Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook.  If you love to cook, eat seasonal and delicious food then this book is for you.  The recipes are set out in Months and then by the seasonal Fruit or Vegetable.  At the moment I am flicking through recipes for raspberries, peas, edible flowers, beans, courgettes and ripe tomatoes.

My favourite recipe at the moment is Panzanella.  An Italian salad using bread and the ripest of tomatoes.  I'd love to share it with you.

Makes 4 main courses.

1kg ripe tomatoes
2 thick slices of coarse white bread such as ciabatta
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and black pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 generous tbsp capers, roughly chopped
75g tin of anchovies, drained and roughly chopped
1 small red onion,, very thinly sliced
12 black olives, pitted
Large bunch of basil, roughly chopped
Large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 mild fresh red chillies, thinly sliced (optional)

Skin the tomatoes by piercing the skin with a knife a placing in boiling water for 30 seconds. Put one large tomato aside for later, and deseed and roughly chop the rest.  Place the chopped tomatoes in a sieve over a bowl to catch any juices.

Tear the bread into small chunks and put them into a large bowl.  Season the collected tomato juice with garlic, pepper, oil and vinegar and pour this over the bread.  Add the tomatoes and then stir a little.  If the bread still looks dry add more oil.

Put a layer of the bread and tomato mix on a large plate and add some capers, anchovies, onions, olives, herbs and if you want them chillies.  The add another layer of bread and tomatoes, then more capers, anchovies, olives etc.

Leave the Panzanella for at least an hour to let the different tastes soak into the bread before you eat.  Add a few leaves of fresh basil and one freshly chopped tomato just before serving.