RECIPE: Panzanella-style Bread Salad
An easy version of a simple salad. A launch pad for whatever rockets of flavour you want to send off. Two essential things, though. Your oil must be the best you can afford. The bread must be dry.
If you want a purist version, see Marcella Hazan’s in The Classic Italian Cookbook. If you want a serious version, see J. Kenji López-Alt’s at seriouseats.com.
A large mixing bowl
Fresh or stale rustic bread, cut into cubes and dried in the oven or in the sun
Olive oil you would eat from a spoon (eg Frantoi Cutrera Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Tomato, as ripe as possible, chopped into chunks, the same size as your bread cubes
Cucumber, chopped into pieces, a little smaller than the tomatoes and bread
Capsicum, red or yellow – you can see red capsicum in the pic – chopped into squares
Celery, half a stick, sliced thinly
Red wine vinegar – or white or raspberry or beetroot vinegar – you really like (eg Cuttaway Creek Raspberry Wine Vinegar)
Basil – or parsley – leaves, torn
Toss the bread into the bowl. Drizzle your excellent olive oil generously over the cubes. Place your tomatoes on top, then the cucumber, capsicum and celery. Sprinkle with salt. Mix gently.
Sparingly, drizzle the vinegar. Throw in the torn basil leaves and grind the pepper over the lot. Mix gently, again.
This is where you adjust your oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to your liking. You can also add more tomato, cucumber, capsicum or basil, now.
You boost with:
Anchovies (eg Talatta Anchovies in a can), hard-boiled eggs, tinned tuna (eg Capriccio Tuna), capers, olives, radish – or other crunchy salad vegetables.
*A food writer, editor and reviewer, Helen Greenwood is doing a PhD at Sydney University. You may remember her from The Sydney Morning Herald.
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