Saturday, 5 May 2018

Panzanella, A Taste of Italian Sunshine

The sun is finally shining so today to celebrate the first real sunshine here in the UK, I've decided to post a sunshine salad. This salad is known as panzanella. It appears frequently on Italian recipe web sites but when I told some friends in the village that I was making a panzanella, they told me that they had never heard of it. This is fairly typical of Italian food knowledge. People eat what they were taught to cook by their mothers and grandmothers but don't really look outside that repertoire. What they do cook is excellent so it is hardly surprising that they don't look for anything else. 

The colours of this salad are truly vibrant, but don't expect pretty. It is a mix of all the ingredients so that the flavours mellow and blend together in a bowl of heaven.

I have to admit that I was lucky as everything in this salad came from my garden, so if you are not as lucky, then try to get the ripest tomatoes that you can get your hands on. The quality of the tomatoes will affect the quality of the salad.

I do feel that it not making this salad they are missing out big time. So, if you want to join me in a bowl of delicious and dare I say it, healthy eating this is what you need to do.

  • 1 red onion that has been soaked in wine vinegar. This will soften it and make it less harsh.
  • 3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes. I used the cuore di bue which are the size of my hand. 3 of these will weigh about a kg. So aim for that.
  • 3 small European type cucumber. These will need to be peeled as they have a spiky skin. Failing these use 1 hot house cucumber.
  • a large handful of stale bread cut into chunks.
  • a bunch of basil torn up.
  • olive oil
  • wine vinegar
Begin by slicing the onion thinly and soaking it in vinegar for at least an hour. Drain and keep to add to the salad.
Toast the bread for about 10 minutes in a medium oven. You are looking to dry stout so that it will absorb the dressing and the juices from the salad.
Make a dressing from 1 part vinegar and 4 parts olive oil. If you have some dijon mustard you can add that. I usually have this made up in a jar so I can't give you precise amounts. Just add enough to coat the ingredients. 
Cut everything else, except the basil, into chunks.
Put into a bowl and add the slices of onion, the dressing and finally the the basil torn up into pieces. Toss it all. Leave for about 10 minutes for the bread to absorb the dressing. 

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