Food: My favourite panzanella - so long summer

 
Panzanella
Panzanella

There was a decided nip in the air today, despite the sunshine. I got my vests back out, it is September after all. That said my tomatoes are starting to fall over under the weight of all the fruits. So to follow on from the tomato tarte tatin, I thought I'd share with you my favourite tomato salad, which is really a bread salad, but what salad can't be improved by bread I say? If you've never had it it's a mixture of sweet juicy tomatoes, flame roasted peppers, bread and basil in a zingy garlicy dressing. It's perfect with some grilled white fish. If you don't like tomatoes I am sorry, I promise to bring you something sweet and pudding like very soon.

Panzanella
Panzanella

My recipe is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver, to make it you will need:

1 red and 1 yellow pepper 300g stale bread - at least a day old and definitely not white sliced it's too pappy. 500g  ripe tomatoes 4 anchovy fillets in olive oil A handful of capers (optional) 1 red onion, finely sliced Handful of fresh basil Sea salt

For the dressing Red wine vinegar Extra virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Method:

Panzanella
Panzanella

Place your peppers, whole, directly on the flame of a gas hob or under the grill. Turn them frequently but allow them to blister and blacken all over for about 10 minutes. This allows them to become soft and sweet inside and makes the skin easier to remove. Once blackened put them in a bowl covered with clingfilm and leave to steam for 20 minutes.

Tear your bread into thumb size pieces and spread them out onto a baking tray. If your bread is fairly dry leave it on the tray to dry a little more. If it's still quite soft pop it in a low oven (say 50c) for about 20 minutes to crispen it off.

Panzanella
Panzanella
Panzanella
Panzanella

Chop up your tomatoes into similar sizes as your bread. Pop them in a colander and season them lightly, but evenly with salt. Put a bowl underneath to catch the juices. Into that bowl put the capers and the anchovies, which will just disappear into the salad but give it great flavour. Add the finely sliced onion too. The tomato juice helps to sweeten the onions and remove the saltiness from the capers.

Panzanella
Panzanella

While the tomatoes are releasing their juices remove as much black skin as possible from the peppers. Don't be tempted to run them under the tap, I did that once and it took all the flavour away. Tear or cut them up into long narrow strips. Add to the tomatoes.

Panzanella
Panzanella

Give the tomatoes a quick squeeze to get out as much juice as you can. To make the dressing add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar to the tomato juice, then add several good lugs of olive oil - about 6 tablespoons and grate or crush in the garlic. Stir and taste. It needs to be quite zingy because the bread dulls the flavour a bit. Adjust it to your taste then toss together with the tomatoes and peppers and bread. Tear in some fresh basil and leave to infuse for 15 minutes (or up to an hour) before serving. Add salt and pepper if you feel it needs it.

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