Because it’s raining constantly, I’m thinking about the sunniest meal. It has to be panzanella – a salad made mainly with stale bread and juicy tomatoes, but open to additions of anything delicious you have hanging around. Fresh, warm tomatoes and fresh basil would be perfect, but don’t wait for summer days to get some sunshine into your life.
- Four ripe tomatoes (over-ripe is perfect – you’ll get more juice)
- A clove of garlic
- A tablespoon of vinegar (red wine vinegar would be good)
- Two or three thick slices of yesterday’s bread (ciabatta is nice in this. If you can toast it, all the better)
- Two tablespoons of good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch or two of sugar
- Basil or parsley
- You could also add capers, olives, red pepper (especially those roasted ones in a jar), chilli, diced cucumber…it’s up to you
- Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and make sure you catch all the juice. Mash about a third of them up with a spoon or fork to get a nice juicy mess. If you add a bit of sugar to the tomatoes, you’ll get more juice and balance any sharpness.
- Cube the bread. If it’s too fresh, you’ll end up with something a bit soggy, so that’s where old bread or toasting comes in!
- Squash, chop, grate or press your garlic.
- Mix together the mushed tomatoes and juice, garlic, pepper and vinegar, then whisk in the oil with a fork. Taste and add salt.
- Combine your bread, chopped tomatoes, basil and any other vegetable ingredients you’ve chosen. Mix well with the dressing.
- Leave to marinate for an hour, if you can wait that long. Add a drizzle more olive oil if the bread looks dry.
We eat this on its own for a fresh-tasting lunch, but it makes a great side-dish for fish too.