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Too hot to cook, so what's for dinner?

September 9, 2011 | 11:49 am

Panzanella It must have been about 90 degrees in my kitchen when I got home last night. Definitely not cooking weather. But that didn't stop me from being hungry. What to do?

Fortunately, we'd had some neighbors over for Labor Day and I'd made bruschetta (look for an upcoming column). So among the leftovers, I had chopped tomatoes and toasted bread, rubbed with garlic. If you can't get dinner out of tomatoes and garlic bread, you need help.

I tossed the bread with the tomatoes, which, having been salted, had released a lot of juice. After a 15-minute walk with the pup, the bread had absorbed the juices and softened. I dumped the whole thing in the food processor, added some more fresh cherry tomatoes and a bunch of torn basil and chopped it to a mush. Panzanella! Moistened with some good olive oil, topped with a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta, it was tart and tomatoey and just the perfect cool dinner for a blistering hot night.

Speaking of tomatoes and bread (how's that for a slick segue): Come by the Hollywood farmers market Sunday morning for the Tomato Festival. At 10 a.m., Evan Kleiman and I will be demonstrating some tomato recipes, and I've got gazpacho on my mind.


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-- Russ Parsons

Photo credit: Russ Parsons / Los Angeles Times