One of the most delicious things that I have eaten recently was a simple bowl of panzanella, which was served in a relatively smart restaurant in Milan. This Tuscan dish is classic peasant food, frugal and made from scraps, but when made well it is memorable and and astonishingly good. Every cook will have their own recipe, but the dish at its most basic is a simple plate of stale bread which has been soaked in a mixture of olive oil, vinegar and tomatoes; seasoning, herbs and other flavours can be added. As is the way with Italian food, simple but made with quality ingredients will win every time and the humble panzanella is no exception.
It can be a meal in itself, or an ideal accompaniment for soup or a salad. In the summer I’d be most happy with some for my breakfast – although I’d probably skip both the onion and capers first thing.
You do want to use a relatively good bread for this, sliced supermarket white simply will not do and will turn to mush; ciabatta, a rustic loaf or sourdough will all work, you need a bread with some substance so it softens whilst still retaining some texture and shape. Your tomatoes want to be very ripe, verging on soft, sun ripened and fragrant. Mine were from the very last of the harvest from my mother’s greenhouse last weekend. It is worth the effort to remove most of the skin; mine were so ripe that the classic method of lightly scoring the skin, then plunging into a bowl of just boiled water would have split the entire fruit, so I quartered the tomatoes and scraped the flesh from the skin using the back of the knife.
Add seasonings to suit you, I don’t really care for raw onion (and fear the effects of my onion breath on those around me so I rarely eat it) and used very little. Red onion is milder then white, and to tame it you can dice it, place in a sieve and pour boiling water over before using.
- 8 slices ciabatta or similar amount other rustic bread or sourdough - stale
- 4 tbs olive oil - good quality
- 2 tbs white wine vinegar
- 6 tomatoes - medium sized, very ripe, skinned and finely chopped
- 1 thin slice red onion - finely diced
- 1 tsp capers - rinsed and chopped
- Few basil leaves - shredded
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cut the bread into bite sized pieces and arrange in a serving bowl.
- Mix all the other ingredients together, and pour over the bread.
- Press the bread with the back of a spoon so it soaks up the juices.
- Leave to infuse for an hour.
- Season as desired.
I accompanied my panzanella with a bowl of GLORIOUS! Tuscan Chicken and Orzo Soup, and was instantly transported back to Italy, and the rolling hills of Tuscany, with ancient towns perched on the hills.
For more recipes to accompany a GLORIOUS! soup try
- Jac’s Thai Spiced Eggy Bread Dippers with Coconut (with the Fragrant Thai Carrot soup)
- Jeanne’s Smoky cheese, pepper & chipotle Mexican quesadillas (with the Mexican Tomato & Fire Roasted Pepper soup)
- Sarah’s 30 minute soda bread (with the New England Butternut Squash soup)
- Dannii’s Garlic & Rosemary Focaccia (with the Sicilian Tomato and Balsamic soup)
- Nazima’s Potato and vegetable masala dosas (with the Goan Tomato and Lentil soup)
The entire range of GLORIOUS! soups has a travel theme, with flavours such as:-
- New England Butternut Squash
- Singapore Crushed Tomato
- Bangalore Lentil Daal
- Cuban Creamed Corn
- Fragrant Thai Carrot
- Sicilian Tomato & Balsamic
- Mexican Tomato & Fire Roasted Pepper
- Mumbai Lentil and Chickpea
- Goan Tomato and Lentil
The soups aim to transport you from your kitchen, dining room, desk or wherever you are eating your soup to that far flung destination you yearn to visit or have fond memories of.
One of the things I most love about travelling is to eat new dishes and to discover new foods, and I nearly always come home with a case of ingredients and a note book of recipes. Recreating holiday dishes instantly transports me back to that beach, or the busy souk, the beach or that Tuscan hillside where I first tasted it.
If you yearn to travel and to discover new dishes the folks at GLORIOUS! have a fab competition to win a trip to Mumbai, staying at the Sun n Sand, India’s first beachfront hotel, and taking a guided taste tour with a small group of fellow food lovers. For a chance to win all you need to do is pick one of the destinations represented by a GLORIOUS! soup and write a blog post about the country and the soup representing it. Closing date is the 30th November, and full T&Cs can be found here. Good luck, and I am rather jealous that I am not allowed to enter!
Recipe and post commissioned by GLORIOUS! All opinions our own