Panzanella

Panzanella

By
From
A Lot on Her Plate
Serves
4
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

When I discovered this traditional Tuscan tomato and bread salad it was love at first taste. It’s an ingenious way to use up those stale bits of sourdough or crusty bread you might have lurking in your kitchen, which, when soaked in the sweet tomato juices, become absolutely delicious. Because this dish is so simple, it’s important to use the best ripe tomatoes, olive oil and bread you can find. I like heirloom tomato varieties, if I can track them down, because of their interesting shapes and colours, and they tend to have a more pronounced flavour. Sourdough works wonderfully too. This dish is best in the summer, when tomatoes are at their best.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
handful fresh basil
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
300g stale sourdough, torn into chunks
500g ripe heirloom tomatoes (a variety of colours, shapes and sizes), washed and sliced, reserving the seeds and juice
10g kalamata or other dark olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Blitz most of the basil leaves (leave a few whole for garnish) in a food processor with the olive oil and capers, or finely chop the basil and capers together by hand and stir into the olive oil if you prefer. Transfer to a bowl and add the sourdough chunks. Toss them in the herby caper oil.
  2. Place the tomatoes, squeezing some of them to release their juice, in a large salad bowl along with the reserved seeds and juice, and mix with most of the olives and red onion, and some more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add the vinegar, stirring to coat. Add half of the herby caper oil and all of the sourdough, and mix to make sure the bread is coated in all the juices.
  3. To serve, transfer the salad to a serving platter, layering the tomato slices, olives, onion and sourdough. Drizzle over the remaining herb oil and garnish with fresh basil leaves and the remaining red onion and olives. Season again with salt and pepper and devour immediately.
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