3 Meals, 1 Recipe

I tend to be inspired by recipes rather than follow them exactly.

My mom once made a delicious panzanella for me and shared the recipe with me so I could make it myself.

Panzanella (Summer Bread Salad)

  • 2 roasted red peppers, cut into large chunks
  • 2 roasted yellow peppers, cut into large chunks
  • 6 plum tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained 3 oz canned anchovy fillets, drained and halved
  • 3/4 cup black olives
  • 5 oz bocconcini, halved
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Italian wood-fired loaf


  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cut bread into large pieces and place in a serving bowl, drizzle with the dressing and mix until the bread is coated. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Serves 8-10

That was about 4 years ago and I’ve never made it myself.

But I have used it as inspiration about a million times so let me share with you two tasty treats I made this week, inspired by the panzanella.

Basil, Tomato, and Roasted Pepper Pizza

I don’t really like pizza. Okay, that was the biggest lie in the universe. But it would be impossible to lie about how delicious this pizza was.

I started with a pizza crust from Central Market.

These crusts are delicious, though I really wish there was a whole wheat version.

I spread some tomato-based pasta sauce on the crust. This, I’m told, is what makes the pizza a vegetable.

I used lots of sauce so that each slice would count as 6 vegetables if it were used in the National School Lunch Program.

Then I added some fresh basil.

Basil is yummy, but another reason for eating it is that it contains volatile oils that restrict the growth of harmful bacteria including E coli 0:157:H7 and Staphylcoccus aureus.

After admiring the basil, I scattered on some pieces of roasted yellow bell pepper.

These ones are actually store-bought (sold in jars and usually found near the pickles and olives), but they are also fun to make yourself.

Next I added halved grape tomatoes.


And capers.

The downside of capers is that they are very salty, but I love ’em.

So I added more capers.


I would have added olives too, but the husbandpants doesn’t like olives so I thought I’d be nice and skip them this time.

You’re welcome.

Finally, I sprinkled on some grated mozzarella.

And grated Parmesan.

You can call it Parmigiano Reggiano if that makes you feel fancy.

I tossed the whole thing in the oven. I paced around impatiently for 10 minutes.

Sliced the pizza.

And ate it.

The end.

Basil Pasta Salad

Today was a hot day (as many days are during the summer in Austin). But it made me want pasta salad.

So I made a pasta salad based on the panzanella. I’ve made this salad many times before and it never disappoints.

If you want to be like me, here’s what you do:

Start by cooking 2 cups of bowtie pasta.

Set the pasta aside to cool. You could rinse it in cold water but this washes away most of the nutrients that haven’t already been lost in the cooking water. I like to cool it by adding ice cubes to it. But if you’re a little more patient than me, putting it in the fridge would be another good way to cool it.

Get your salad bowl out and toss in 1/2 cup of roasted bell pepper pieces.

I used yellow, but a combination of red and yellow would be real purty.

Then toss in a cup of grape tomatoes.

Again, go for a variety of colors it you can. Tomatoes actually come in red, pink, yellow, orange, tangerine, green, purple, brown, and black. And, contrary to popular belief, all colors of tomatoes are excellent sources of lycopene, making them all anti-oxidant powerhouses!

Toss in 1/4 cup of capers.


Because capers are yummy and extremely high in a compound called quercetin which has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Green and black tea are the only foods that have higher levels of quercetin than capers.

Add 1/4 cup of olives too.

And…wait for it…grated parmesan cheese.

Actually, I prefer to use shaved parmesan or bocconcini but use whatever you have on hand (as long as it’s not that weird Parmesan you’ve been storing in your cupboard for a year).

Okay, this is the most important part.

Add 2 cups of fresh basil.

If you don’t like basil as much as I do, you might want to shred it instead of leaving the leaves whole.

Then add the cold pasta.

I swear the rest of the salad is still in there.

For the dressing, I started with a giant clove of garlic.

But if you don’t have a giant clove, a couple of regular sized ones would work equally well for vampire protection.

Roughly chop and toss it in your chopper-blender-thingy.

Pour in 1/8 cup of red wine vinegar.

Or whatever amount is left in the bottle.

And 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Or 1/4 cup minus what you spill all over the counter before making it to the bowl.

Finally, add the secret ingredient.

About 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste.

It’s magical and  a teaspoon of it daily will help you lose 10 pounds a day.

Not really, but it sure makes this dressing taste awesome.

Blend it up. Zoomy zoomy zoomy.

On the bright side, there is no way it could taste as bad as it looks.

Poor it onto the salad.

Mix it all up. If you are feeling classy, I recommend using a spoon or tongs to mix it.

But I like to put on a lid and shake it up.

Shake shake shake. Shake shake shake. Shake your booty.


What creation would you make with this basic set of ingredients?
Leave a comment


  1. Jacqueline Knights

     /  July 2, 2012

    Diana, you can easily make your own pizza dough too. We do it every Friday. 100g of white bread flour, 100g of wholewheat bread flour, 1 tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of dried yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp of salt and add enough warm water so you can make it into a dough (about 125mls). Knead for as long as you can (at least 5 min), put it aside for 45 min (with a tea towel covering it) then roll it out, put toppings on and bake for 15 min or so at 200C. (Not sure if grams is useful to you, but the Brits weigh all dry ingredients so that’s how I bake now). It’s easy to make your own bread, kids love it and nothing is more satisfying than coming back to the dough you’ve kneaded to find it risen!

    • Hi Jacqueline, thanks for sharing that super simple recipe. I usually buy the crusts from Central Market because I’m too impatient to wait for the dough to rise! But yes, I definitely agree that nothing quite compares to home-made breads. If you’re ever in Texas…

  1. Pizza Healthy? « ProjectEatMe

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