Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad)

New Years Eve in Western Australia.  It is a balmy 29 degrees C and calls for a relaxed barbecue New Years Eve dinner.  The protein is sorted – beautiful porterhouse steaks but what to serve with them?  I spy half a ciabatta loaf from a couple of days ago on the counter top and panzanella springs to mind.  It is 7.30am so if I prepare it now it should have long enough for the flavours to develop.

There are a number of recipes for panzanella but I think my favourite is Nigella’s and after my less than enthusiastic review of her latest book, I feel somewhat obliged to prepare one of her recipes that I really enjoy.  It has such an amazing piquant flavour that every time I eat it I wonder why I don’t make it more often!  It is also so versatile – serve it with steak,  chicken or fish or you can even just eat it as a meal in itself.

Panzanella

5 cups of stale Italian style Bread cut into small cubes

450gm of Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half

1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced into half moons

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 – 1 Clove of Garlic

2 tspns of Rock Salt

A pinch of Caster Sugar

1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A bunch of Basil

Put the sliced onion into a large salad bowl and pour over the red wine vinegar allowing to steep for 10 minutes.  Grate the garlic (how much depends on how much you like garlic!) over the onions and vinegar and then add the chopped cherry tomatoes.  Add the salt and the sugar and then add the cubed bread.

Pour over the olive oil and add half of the basil leaves and then toss everything to combine – your hands are easily the best utensil for this!  The longer this salad is left to steep, the more flavourful it will become – overnight would be ideal.  If you put it in the refrigerator, make sure you bring it to room temperature before serving and add the rest of the basil leaves just before putting it on the table.

This recipe will serve four as a side dish.

Happy New Year!

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