A vegetarian food blog featuring photos, recipes and the occasional incongruous political rant.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that makes a fantastic summer lunch. It is traditionally made as a way of using up stale bread (I cheated and made some fresh bread go stale by drying it in the oven). It's best made with ciabatta, but can also be made with other good quality bread like sourdough. However, the bread does need to be quite firm and robust otherwise it will disintegrate in all the juices.
Other ingredients include brightly coloured Mediterranean vegetables. There are no hard and fast rules as to what you include (some people add celery or cucumber), but make sure that all the ingredients are top quality with lots of flavour.
1 large ciabatta - either stale or dried in a low oven
1kg ripe vine tomatoes
3 peppers (red, orange or yellow)
20 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped into quarters
1 tablespoon of capers
Bunch of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
Juice of two lemons
Half a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chop the bread into bite-sized cubes. Chop the peppers into small chunks, spread on a baking tray, and they place under a hot grill until they begin to char. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool. Next, peel the tomatoes by piercing them and then dropping them in boiling water for one minute. When the skin begins to split, remove them with a slotted spoon - the skin will slide off easily. Halve the tomatoes and then, using a teaspoon, remove the seeds from the centre. Don't throw the seeds away - instead, reserve both them and the juice for the dressing. Once you have de-seeded all the tomatoes, cut them into strips. Next, add the lemon juice and olive to the tomato seeds and season with a small amount of salt and plenty of black pepper. About an hour before you want to eat, place all the ingredient in a large bowl, including the basil and mozzarella, whisk the dressing, and pour it over. Stir the salad to make sure that all the bread soaks up the dressing, and then leave to one side for the flavours to meld together.
Serves 4-6 depending on whether you have it as a main or a side.