Panzanella (Italian bread salad)

Imagine a salad that defies all the rules of typical salad. A salad that contains bread, cheese and actually tastes like something you want to eat. Well say hello to Panzanella.

Serves: 2

Perfect for: People who like tasty, simple food.

Perfect when: It’s just you and your partner and you don’t mind eating raw garlic together.

Difficulty: 1/ 5

Cost: 3/ 5

Time: 2/ 5

Why it works:

  • The punchy, tangy dressing goes superbly with the sweet, ripe tomatoes.

  • The bread takes on two distinct textures: soft and juicy on the outside yet crunchy inside.

  • The anchovy and parmesan provide the dish with bursts of umami (strong, savoury flavours).

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Notes:

  • A variation of tomato shapes and colours makes the salad aesthetically pleasing. You can get different coloured tomatoes at a farmer’s shop or in some supermarkets.

  • Crusty and slightly stale bread is best for this, e.g. ciabatta or baguette.

  • If you want to make this dish vegetarian, substitute the anchovy for a teaspoon of miso paste.


Ingredients:

  • Half a large ciabatta loaf, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 15-20 assorted cherry tomatoes, cut into different sizes pieces
  • 15-20 leaves of basil, roughly torn
  • 1 tablespoon of capers, roughly chopped
  • Grated parmesan to serve

For the dressing:

  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets (stored in olive oil)
  • 5-7 leaves of basil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Bread: Lightly drizzle with olive oil and bake in an oven at 180°C for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
  2. Dressing: Place the garlic and a small pinch of salt (preferably coarse sea salt) in a mortar or food processor and grind. Add anchovies, basil and capers and repeat. Add the olive oil, vinegar and some freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine and taste the dressing. It should be sour, savoury and have a strong kick.
  3. Combine: Place the crispy bread, tomatoes, capers, basil and dressing in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix, scrunching everything together. Crushing some pieces and leaving some whole. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Rest for 5 mins.
  4. Present: Pile into a serving bowl or onto a wooden board and garnish with a generous grating of parmesan and a few basil leaves. Tuck in!

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Extra Detail/ Insight:

  1. I find that toasting the bread in the oven means it maintains a crunchy texture in the salad. I would recommend tasting one after they have slightly cooled. Although they are very moreish so you may end up having half the tray.
  2. The salt helps to grind the garlic into a paste and takes the raw edge off it. It is always best to grind/ blitz the hardest ingredients first to ensure thorough blending. The dressing is really strong so avoid having this dish before a first date.
  3. Scrunching some bits of the salad together and leaving some whole improves the overall texture of the dish. The resting period allows the dressing to soak into the bread and tomatoes.
  4. The parmesan adds extra flavour as well as providing an nice texture. This dish is great for a light lunch or as a side at a bbq.

Photos:

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