This weekend I visited a local farmers market and I bought some beautiful yellow grape tomatoes. For the last few days, I was thinking about what kind of recipe I could prepare using them. So, I remembered a salad from Jamie Oliver’s book called panzanella.
This summery dish was originated in the areas of Tuscany and has as main ingredients tomatoes and croutons made from leftover bread. It was first recorded in 16th-century as a substantial dish made by the peasants who wanted to take advantage of stale bread. It is a great creation and also so flavorsome. The bread soaks up the oil, vinegar and the ripe tomato juices absorbing all the good flavors of the salad.
This recipe uses basil, roasted bell peppers, capers, onion, celery and anchovies, but you can also use any seasonal vegetables. I know that some people don’t like anchovies. So in that case you can use fresh fish like grilled tuna. Panzanella can be served either as a starter or as an entree.
(adapted from the book Jamie's Italy)
serves 6 people
2 lb different ripe tomatoes (chopped into rough 1cm cubes)
2 red peppers (roasted and chopped into 1cm cubes)
2 yellow peppers (roasted and chopped into 1cm cubes)
1/2 celery heart (finely chopped)
1 red onion finely chopped
Fresh basil (roughly chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
Extra virgin olive oil
white wine vinegar
1 loaf of Toscana bread or Ciabatta bread
6 anchovy fillets
Cut the bread into 2cm cubes 400ºF for 7-8 minutes or until it is crunchy.
Cut the peppers into quarters and roast at 400ºC for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool before peel and cutting into cubes.
Chop all the remaining vegetables into rough 1 cm cubes and place into a mixing bowl. Mix until all the flavours and colours mingle.
Add the chopped garlic and basil.
Dress the salad liberally with the olive oil, vinegar, black pepper and a touch of salt.
When ready to serve, coat the croutons well in the tomato sauce before adding the vegetables. Mix together.
To finish, top the salad with anchovies (optional) and garnish with some fresh basil.