It’s the hottest day of the year so far today which means it’s a day for salad or gazpacho as far as I’m concerned and, since I have the ingredients for a variation on panzanella I thought I’d try that. This is an Italian salad which I’ve often eaten but never made, mainly because although the name is lovely, I was certain there must be some alchemy to turning tomatoes and soaked stale bread into something juicy but not soggy. But, having reviewed a few recipes, I went for one from the Riverford Farm Cook Book which uses toasted not soaked bread and, personally, I think it’s much nicer. Okay, it involved turning the oven on which seems horrible on such a warm day but it’s only for five minutes and I’m sure you could do this with thick slices of toast too, if you couldn’t bear the heat. Or, if you have a barbecue, and you’re serving this with grilled lamb or something equally seasonal, then char some bread on that instead. Yum.
Tomato and bread salad (adapted from Riverford Farm Cook Book)
For two you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 60 ml (about 4 tablespoons)
sea salt and ground black pepper
garlic clove, 1
red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon
good white bread (not sliced), about 150g
tomatoes, 3 large
capers, 1 teaspoon
tinned anchovy fillets, 2
basil, a handful of leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
2. Cut the bread up into largish (ones you can put in your mouth) cubes and, when the oven is up to temperature, put them on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes until just golden and crispy.
3. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then eighths then squeeze the juice from half of them into a blender jug or food processor. (This leaves you with some squashed bits of tomato flesh; the recipe doesn’t say whether to discard them or not but I kept them in.)
4. Drain and rinse the capers, chop the anchovies and peel and chop the garlic. Add these to the tomato juice. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar and blend until smooth. Season to taste.
5. Put both squeezed and unsqueezed tomatoes into a bowl with the bread cubes and basil leaves. Pour over the dressing, mix gently and serve.