Panzanella

This popular bread-soaked Italian salad from Simon Rimmer is ideal to serve when tomatoes are at their peak of ripeness
By Simon Rimmer
Panzanella
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus cooling and 1 hr soaking time
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 3 red peppers
  • 3 yellow peppers
  • 1 kg plum tomatoes
  • 1 small red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp capers, (or to taste), in vinegar or salt, rinsed, patted dry
  • 12 large black or green olives, pitted
  • 60 ml red wine vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200-250 ml virgin olive oil
  • 1 large loaf ciabatta, 2-days old
  • 1 handfuls fresh basil, torn

Method

1. To skin the peppers, lay them all whole on a foil-lined grill pan and grill under a preheated grill for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until blackened all over. Put them in a sealed plastic bag until cool (this will help them to sweat so their skins fall off more easily). When cool, peel off the skins with your fingers. Halve the peppers, remove the seeds and cores then cut each one into about 8 pieces. Put the pieces into a bowl.

2. Skin the tomatoes: mark a cross on the bottom of each one with a sharp knife, plunge them into a bowl of boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer them with a slotted spoon straight into a bowl of iced water. Peel off the skins, then halve and scoop out the insides of the tomatoes into a sieve set over a large bowl. Press the seeds and juice through the sieve so the juice collects in the mixing bowl. Reserve the juice. Cut each tomato in half again then put the tomato quarters into the bowl with the peppers, along with the chopped chilli, capers and olives.

3. Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, some seasoning and 200ml olive oil in the bowl with the reserved tomato juice.

4. Tear the bread into big chunks and put into a separate large bowl. Pour the olive oil mixture over the bread and let it soak for about an hour, adding more oil if needed for a soft texture.

5. Finally, gently combine all the peppers with the tomatoes, soaked bread and the dressing, then scatter with the torn basil leaves.

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