Our area has been dealing with several days of severe storms resulting in wide-spread power outages and many, many downed trees, along with other wind damage. Lots of friends have been without power for over 36 hours and one had a tree fall on her car. We have been very fortunate—aside from some plants, patio furniture and garbage/recycle bins being tossed around, our only storm story is the windows were rattled so much from the rain and wind on Thursday night that it set off our alarm system. At least we know it works!
So much sympathy for those without power—it impacts every aspect of your lives and has to be absolutely miserable. The weather gods must be looking out for Pete—to say I would be unpleasant to be around without AC is the understatement of the century!
Last night we were to attend a “bring your own everything” picnic and I had been preparing for several days, putting the finishing touches on our packable dinner early yesterday afternoon. Then I received a message that the event was postponed due to the likelihood of more storms and the fact that so many were without power or knee-deep in storm clean-up that a picnic was way down on their list of priorities. Completely understandable. We were disappointed, but the right call was made. Now, what to do with all this food? Have a picnic at home!! Outside if the weather held, or inside if it didn’t. We invited a few friends and with the short notice, ended up with only one guest, our friend Dawn, one of those unlucky souls without power (and also the one whose car roof met up with the tree).
The weather did hold and we had a lovely evening with a dear friend—appetizer and dinner on the deck and dessert and drinks on the patio. As dusk descended, the fire table was lit and lively conversation and wine freely flowed. A thoroughly fun summer Saturday night!
Our dinner’s main course was a delicious sandwich of sorts, a vegetarian (vegan, in fact) pan bagnat. Pan bagnat is a specialty of France’s Provence region and is basically a hollowed out rustic whole wheat loaf filled with Nicoise salad. I found this vegan version in a Google search for vegetarian picnic food. It’s perfect—a make-ahead, no need for a cooler, eat with your hands kind of meal. If I would change anything, it would be to up the liquid so it soaks into the bread a little more—maybe increase the vinegar by a teaspoon, the olive oil by a tablespoon and don’t discard the seeds and juice from the tomato like I did. Bon appétit!
from Food & Wine Magazine
1 fennel bulb, halved and cut crosswise into very thin slices
1 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (from one 15-ounce can)
1/3 cup black olives, such as Niçoise or Kalamata, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2—more garlic is good!)
1 large tomato, chopped
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 rustic whole wheat loaf or 4 large crusty rolls, split horizontally
In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the fennel, chickpeas, olives, capers, parsley, garlic, and tomato. Add the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper and toss.
Remove some of the soft center from the loaf or each half roll, leaving a 1/2-inch shell. Mound the filling onto the bottom of each roll. Drizzle any remaining juices over the filling. Cover with the top of each roll.
Wrap tightly in saran and then aluminum foil, lay a large cutting board on top of the loaf and weigh it down with a heavy book or a couple of large cans. Let sit for a couple of hours. Slice and enjoy with a glass of good, dry Rosé.