This post was originally published here on May 29, 2013. I’ve since updated the photos and text.
It’s my Birthday!
I’m 37 years old today. And apparently, I’m celebrating my most recent successful trip around the sun by re-visiting this recipe for Panzanella Salad with Roasted Garlic. It’s a dish that first appeared here on the blog over 4 year ago. And it’s one that I still love to make and enjoy all Summer long.
So…is this what 37 looks like? Is my choosing to post a sensible salad recipe on my Birthday, instead of a towering three-tiered cake covered with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, indicative of old age? Or maturity? Or senility?
Honestly, I’m not sure. But whatever the reason, I’m OK with it. Because I’m pleased to report that 37 actually feels pretty gosh darn good.
So, let’s chat about this salad. It’s a recreation of a dish that I enjoyed (i.e. devoured) at a tiny Italian restaurant on Orcas Island several years ago, back when I was living in the state Washington. And while I can’t remember everything about that exact dish, their use of whole roasted garlic cloves in the salad is what stood out most in my mind. It’s what made their panzanella salad different from those I had eaten in the past. And it’s a trick that I’ve now adopted at home to help take my panzanella salads over the top.
The rest of this salad is composed of your typical Summer staples: juicy tomatoes (get heirlooms if you can!), fresh basil and tender mixed greens. And of course, we can’t forget about the toasted bread cubes. I mean, it wouldn’t really be a panzanella salad without the bread. I usually buy a loaf of whatever happens to catch my eye at the bakery that week. An Italian Pugliese or French Boule are always sensible choices. But don’t be afraid to play with different types of bread. I’ve learned from past experiments that rye bread can really add an extra punch of flavor. Or try cornbread if you need to make a gluten-free version.
This isn’t one of those salads that you can just toss together in a few minutes. It takes time to roast the garlic and prepare the other ingredients. But it’s totally worth it for those nights when you have a little bit of extra wiggle room in your schedule. Because the layers of flavors here are seriously on point.
The original version of this recipe included some buffalo mozzarella, but I’ve since started enjoying it sans cheese. Skipping the mozzarella makes this recipe vegan (just be sure to check the ingredient label on your bread), which means I get to save my “dairy points” for things like ice cream or strawberry shortcake with fancy whipped cream. Because at 37 years of age, I’m learning that life is all about balance.
Because it’s Monday, I think we deserve a slice of homemade pie.
But, ideally, without all the actual work of having to make a pie.
So here I am today, proposing to you that we indulge our sweet tooth with these Cherry-Rhubarb Pie Bars instead. I hope you say “yes”.
Kind of like a cross between a fruit pie and a shortbread tart, these Cherry-Rhubarb Pie Bars might just be my new favorite Summer dessert (at least until I find my next favorite dessert). Sweet. But not overly so. With a good mix of textures to keep each bite interesting. AND they turned out to be the most perfect shade of pink (#millenialpink). Obviously, I’m feeling all the feels over these babies.
I also can’t stress enough how easy these are to prepare. No rolling, chilling or crimping required. And the fact that this recipe feeds a crowd (you get a whole 9 X 13-inch pan), makes these treats ideal for backyard gatherings and poolside parties. Or toss a couple in your picnic basket and get your butt to the beach. You’ll be glad you did!
As it turns out, rhubarb and cherries are a pretty good pairing. I’ve done the classic rhubarb + strawberries many times. And last year I played with rhubarb + raspberries. But this was my first time adding cherries to the equation. I’m not sure why I never thought to do that before. It seems kind of obvious to me now. But there is no sense in lamenting about the past. Instead, I’m excited to move forward and explore this combination in other recipes. And with cherry season on the horizon, now is the perfect time to do just that.
I also tried using pistachio meal for the first time (which I just made myself by finely grinding shelled pistachios in my food processor) instead of almond or hazelnut meal, which I typically reach for when baking. The pistachio meal compliments the rhubarb and cherries nicely. And I encourage you to give it a try. But if you’re not feeling it, you can substitute it with something else. These pie bars are very forgiving.
I’m sharing these Cherry-Rhubarb Pie Bars as part of our monthly Eat Seasonal round-up organized by Becky from Vintage Mixer. At the start of each month, myself and some of my blogging friends create new recipes (links below!) highlighting all the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. Additionally, Becky posts an extensive list of recipe suggestions over on her monthly seasonal eating guide. I hope you check them all out and find some inspiration for the month of June. As you can see from the image below, we were all in a bit of a “pink” mood!
Recipe adapted from my Blueberry-Thyme Pie Bars
June Eat Seasonal Recipes
Rhubarb & Orange Frangipane Galette by Simple Bites
Roasted Strawberry Yogurt Pops by Completely Delicious
Greek Three Bean Salad by Flavor the Moments
Chunky Citrus Guacamole by Foodie Crush
Strawberry Lime Chopped Salad by Vintage Mixer
Minty Sweet Pea Hummus by She Likes Food
Simply Strawberry Pie by Joy Food Sunshine
French Green Lentil and Quinoa Salad by Letty’s Kitchen
Cherry Rolls by Kitchen Confidante
Pimento Cheese Spread w/ Pickled Green Garlic, Radishes and Rhubarb by Food for My Family