Panzanella is an Umbrian and Tuscan salad using old bread, tomatoes and onions, and frequently features chopped cucumber and fresh basil. It is traditionally dressed with a mixture of olive oil and red wine vinegar. There are no hard and fast rules about quantities, and roast peppers, pitted black olives and tinned anchovies are often added to provide extra interest and flavour. Usually, ciabatta would be the bread of choice but French baguettes that are 1 or 2 days old also work well.
Ingredients: (Serves 4+)
1kg ripe tomatoes.
Circa 300g ciabatta or baguette.
1 shallot – finely sliced.
1 red bell pepper.
1 x 50g tin of anchovies in olive oil.
100g pitted black olives.
Olive oil x 2-3 tablespoons (plus the oil from the anchovies).
1 tbsp red wine vinegar.
Handful of (torn) basil leaves.
Salt to season.
Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks then place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes until lightly-toasted. While the bread is in the oven, roast a de-seeded red bell pepper for around 30 minutes and then thinly-slice lengthways.
Dice the tomatoes into large chunks and sprinkle lightly with salt. Mix the tomatoes in a large salad bowl with all of the other ingredients and dress it with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Toss the salad well and garnish with the torn basil leaves.
I'd serve that in shallow bowls, ideally out of doors and with a robust Mediterranean rosé such as Chateau Roubaud's Costières de Nîmes.