BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Summer’s Sweet Bounty

29 Comments

Much has been said of California cuisine, and as it remains a nebulous and often contentious concept at best, I won’t even begin to add my two cents to that short-changed conversation. Rather, I can’t help but marvel at the availability and variety of raw ingredients that make it all happen. It’s easy to see how a chef could be inspired to try anything once, maybe twice, when the basic components are all so accessible, to say nothing of their inherent flavor or beauty. Each trip to one of the many farmers markets is guaranteed to yield a cornucopia of edible inspiration. Where else can you find locally grown pistachios, two or three dozen distinctive varieties of peaches, and rainier cherries for an unbelievable price of $2 per pound, all in one place? San Francisco has developed a reputation as being a farm-to-table foodie’s paradise, and it sure is working hard to keep that title.

Of course, I took this opportunity to positively gorge myself on ripe seasonal fruits. The siren song of those soft, explosively juicy nectarines was impossible to resist, no matter how messy they were to eat. Apricots came home with me in aromatic, golden heaps, piled so high on the kitchen counter that it seemed impossible to eat them without aid. Somehow, I always managed.

That’s to say nothing of the berries. Despite missing out on the prime berry bounty, it was still a real treat to enjoy locally grown options, and at such bargain basement prices. As a little ode to my Californian summer, it was only fitting to gather up a small sampling of what I had on hand, along with the famed sourdough that beckons irresistibly in every reputable bakery’s store front. Fresh mint plucked straight from the tiny windowsill garden completed this little love note to my temporary, adoptive home state.

Light, fresh, fast, it’s the kind of recipe that depends entirely on the quality of your ingredients. Consider it as a serving suggestion; more of an idea than a specific schematic, to be tailored to whatever fruits are fresh and in season in your neck of the woods.

California Dreamin’ Panzanella

5 Cups Cubed Sourdough Bread
2 Cups Pitted and Halved Cherries
2 Cups Seedless Grapes
1 Cup Blackberries
1/4 Cup Zulka Sugar or Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Walnuts
Fresh Mint Leaves, Thinly Sliced

To Serve:

Coconut Whipped Cream (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread your cubes of sourdough bread out on a baking sheet in one even layer and bake them for about 15 minutes, until golden and lightly toasted all over. Let cool completely before proceeding.

In a large bowl, toss together all of the fruits and remaining ingredients. Toss in the toasted bread, right before serving, last to ensure that it stays crisp. Mix thoroughly so that everything is well distributed and entirely coated with the sugar mixture. Enjoy immediately with a dollop of whipped coconut cream, if desired.

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

29 thoughts on “Summer’s Sweet Bounty

  1. That looks beyond stunning, Hannah! Oh, to be in California! My brother and sis-in-law have recently moved to LA. Any tips food-wise for LA residents?

    • If only I could help in that department! Sadly, I didn’t have time to escape the bay area, but there is certainly no shortage of excellent culinary adventures to be found in LA. I’ve heard amazing things about Shojin and Sage Vegan Bistro, just for starters. Maybe I should take a trip out there, purely for a more accurate, specific report, of course… ;)

  2. Looks amazing! Summer’s bounty is such a great thing; I managed to pick up some blueberries this summer when in Finland.

  3. Sweet panzanella…be still my heart!

  4. Oh yum! It looks really gooood!!!!

  5. that is an awesome idea to make a sweet and fruity panzanella! i definitely will be taking the idea to recreate in my kitchen. love it!

  6. This looks so delicious my friend :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  7. WOW!!! LUCKY YOU!!
    Your pictures are breathtaking

  8. This is picture perfect, the little dollop of cream on top is beautiful!

  9. MMMMMMM,….what yummy pics!!! :) yum yum yumm!

  10. Such a joy to be at a California farmer’s market! I especially remember getting fresh local olive oil! And the fruit, and the avocados…. just a true experience of bounty all around.

  11. Hannah, what a great idea and stunningly delicious photos to match. We just got back from Wyoming and managed to catch a day of the Sheridan farmers market, much larger than the last time I caught one. Got some amazing cherries from Montana (just over the border.) We just finished them today. Love the summer produce.

    janet

  12. This looks absolutely amazing! Can’t wait to try!

  13. I can always count on you to throw something interesting into the ring Ms Hannah and this “salad” (fruit salad?!) is most interesting indeed. I love croutons and in a fruity salad? I am going to have to try this come December when our stone fruits are starting to arrive in the grocers.

  14. I have everything to make this yummy looking salad except for the cherries. Where did you find $2/lb cherries? The best I’ve ever found them was for $4/lb and that was on sale.

  15. Hi
    can you suggest some other fruits , for us cherries, strawberries are exotic fruits which are not readily available and are also very pricy.. Can the regular fruits that are common be used’

    • Hi Akshata,

      Sure! This recipe is incredibly flexible and can work with just about any fruits you have on hand. More common and highly delicious options could include chopped apples or pears (tossed with a bit of lemon juice so that they don’t brown), cubed melons, segmented oranges- Pretty much anything, really!

  16. Pingback: Summer Panzanella with Watermelon, Pesto Cornbread, and Feta - Joanne Eats Well With Others

  17. Thanks for shining some positive light on VegNews’ town, Hannah and please come back soon!

  18. What a great deal, Hannah, I don’t think I can find these at that price here! Pistachios & cherries are expensive here! What a gorgeous salad packed with such lovely and affordable ingredients you’ve discovered!

  19. Looks so delicious!!!! :)

  20. Wow. I can’t get over this! Such a beautiful salad, and so creative! Inspirational!!!

  21. What are your favorite farmer’s markets in San Francisco?

    • Even the smallest markets are pretty amazing so you can’t go too far wrong, but if forced to chose, I think my favorite would be the Heart of the City Farmers Market in the Civic Center. They set up shop on both Wednesdays and Sundays, but Wednesdays tend to be better, with more food trucks and lunch options around.

      • Thank you! I have been to that one actually to grab food from Hella Vegan Eats :) I’ve never browsed the market though! Will take the time next time.

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