A lovely seasonal panzanella salad

"panzanella

A lovely seasonal salad

Today I made an Italian panzanella salad, using up the stale Irrewarra ciabatta rolls (I can’t bear to throw them away), some really ripe tomatoes and red peppers left over from a photo shoot. I came across Cath Claringbold’s recipe a few years ago when I was doing the styling on Good Weekend magazine. Believe me, it is one of those salads that you have to make.
A few tips:
It’s important to keep the capsicum whole when grilling (or roasting in the oven –as I do) so that all the delicious juices are retained. In fact, I hold the peppers over the torn bread whilst I’m peeling them, so all the juices drip into the bowl for extra flavour. Use a sieve to catch any pips if they annoy you.
The bread: the last time I made this, my bread rolls were so stale that I couldn’t tear them or even cut them with a knife. So I soaked them whole in the dressing until they were soft enough to tear up.
The anchovies: I strongly suggest Ortiz anchovies here, as they are magnificent. If you don’t like anchovies, these may just change your mind.
The capers really need a rinse if they’re packed in salt or vinegar. I prefer to use salted capers.
The olives –always buy good quality olives with the pips in. It is very easy to squash fat juicy olives with the back of a knife and remove the pips. The flavour is much better.
The basil- tear it gently with your hands as it can go black when you cut it with a knife.
And that’s it, really. Good quality ingredients, really ripe tomatoes and fragrant basil –summer on a plate. Enjoy.

Cath Claringbold’s Panzanella

2 red capsicums
2 yellow capsicums
400g very stale ciabatta
1 small red chilli
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6oog vine ripened tomatoes
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch basil
50g good quality anchovy fillets
50g baby capers
100g pitted black olives

Grill the capsicum whole until blackened all over, place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm.
When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and seeds.
Cut or tear each pepper into 8 pieces.
Tear the bread into rough bite-size pieces. Finely chop the chilli and crush it with the garlic and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until it is a smooth paste.
Puree one tomato and mix with the chilli garlic mix. Whisk together the red wine vinegar and olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette, then season with salt and pepper.
Mix two thirds of the vinaigrette into the tomato puree, pour over the bread and toss. The bread will absorb the liquid.
Pick, wash and dry the basil leaves.
Tear the anchovy fillets and rinse the capers.
In a large bowl, bring all the ingredients together, except for the remaining vinaigrette.
Add the basil leaves last, tearing the bigger leaves.
Season with salt and pepper and serve on a large platter with a drizzle of the remaining vinaigrette over the top.

Serves 4.

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