I’ve eyed up a panzanella for ages, spotting a particularly nice one in Tony & Giorgio. Yet I’ve not got round to it, until Simon Hopkinson chided me from the couch to give it a go. I have no idea why I’ve left it so long, it’s exactly the sort of food I love and the food I love the Italians for. It’s a Tuscan bread salad with onions, tomato and cucumber, mixed together with vinegar and oil left to marinate.

I’ve added my own tweak by roasting the bread first; I think you get more interesting flavours and the bread doesn’t completely break down. Sharp and fresh, yet rounded and satisfying at the same time. I can’t recommend it enough. Not bad for a peasant dish.

Simon Hopkinson’s original recipe can be found here.

Panzanella (serves 4):

5 slices stale sourdough bread

6 ripe tomatoes, peeled

1 red onion, finely sliced

1 cucumber, cut into chunks

1 tablespoon capers

Extra virgin olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Handful chopped basil

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cut the bread into large croutons, drizzle with a little oil, toss over some seas salt and pepper and roast on a baking tray for 10 minutes until just starting to colour.
  3. Add the toasted bread to a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and add more oil, vinegar, salt and pepper until you’re happy with it. You can eat straight away but it loves to sit around and let the flavours mingle, so eat it the next day if you like.


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