Another great summer dish - assembled for the "Summer Salad" Event over at My Life as a reluctant housewife and the monthly (virtual) gathering organised by Meeta. The theme this time round is "holiday cuisine" ... but sadly, my holidays this year, lovely as they were, couldn't get me to bring up any summery feelings. I left London in perfect sunshine and warmth to be greeted with rain at my arrival in Vienna, rain that shouldn't stop for a fortnight. Pretty depressive, no kidding.
But just before I left, in the true spirit of summer holidays, I made a dish I first encountered when travelling to Italy with my parents as a kid. Panzanella is often translated as "bread salad", which does anything but whet my appetite, but it's much better than it sounds... and if you believe the many food magazines available in this country, it is experiencing a bit of a revival lately. Unsurprisingly, as it is a great summer dish and so simple to throw together.
I often say it simply is gazpacho before the invention of the blender, as the ingredients are virtually the same - apart from the usual suspects of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and onion, I normally use day-old ciabatta bread and toast it in a pan, then toss in (home-made) pesto for that refreshing basil kick. With almost over-ripe tomatoes at the height of their season, this quick and healthy salad is the embodiment of summer...
(serves 2 as a summery main)
3 slices day-old ciabatta bread
2 tbsp pesto (preferrably home-made)
1 yellow pepper
1 medium red onion)
2 big beefsteak tomatoes* (650 g)
1 handful basil
For the vinaigrette:
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dijon mustard
Cut the ciabatta into 2-3 cm cubes and dry-roast in a non-stick pan. Transfer to a bowl and toss in 2 tbsp of pesto while still hot. Leave to cool.
Clean and cut all vegetables into 3 cm chunks, combine in a bowl and pour over the vinaigrette. Combine thoroughly. Just before serving, fold in the ciabatta pieces and decorate with fresh basil.
* Beefstaeak tomatoes are large tomatoes which have a firm flesh and where the percentage of flesh vs. juice/seeds prevails. This will allow you to cut almost perfect dice, rather than the pieces disintegrating.