Panzanella

Originally a Tuscan summer peasant dish made with tomatoes, lots of red onion and soaked stale bread.  This is a very loosely based version and uses toasted cubes of sourdough, no capers and the onion is toned down too, making it more child friendly.

Panzanella2

I’ve had some very bad Panzanella salad in the past with mushy wet bread and sludgy ingredients.  Great, if that’s your thing, but I wanted the fresh summer flavours of the original, without the sludge!  I love sourdough bread, especially toasted sourdough bread!  I thought how good cubes of toasted bread would be with all the other vegetables and dressing. Its super easy to make and I really like to take this salad to work with me too.

Ingredients:
1 red pepper – cut into cubes
1 yellow pepper – cut into cubes
Assorted cherry tomatoes – halved
Cucumber – cut in half lengthways, de-seeded and chopped into half-moons fairly thickly
Small bunch of basil leaves
Small sourdough loaf cut into cubes, or any other French crusty loaf, preferably a day old.
¼ cup olive oil

Dressing:
5 Spring onions/scallions, very finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs white wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Heat oven to 180°C/350°F.  Evenly coat the bread cubes in the oil and spread out on a sheet pan.  You can either do this with your hands or use an oil sprayer if you have one for an even distribution.  Toast in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until crisp, turning a couple of times.

Mix together the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Then stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll them up like a cigar and slice into thin ribbons (chiffonade).  Add the shredded basil to the vegetables, enough dressing to moisten and toss everything together together.

Great for a summer lunch and perfect for a lunchbox.

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