Tuesday, 23 April 2013



Panzanella is a very popular in summer throughout Italy, but as with most dishes in Italy there are hundreds of variations using many different ingredients. This is how I like to make it and the ingredients I like to use but you can use different vegetables such as aubergine, celeriac, green beans, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, tuna . . .  could go on all day. They keyt to a good panzanella is good bread, preferably stale as the whole reason for this salads creation was to use up bread that was past its best.

Panzanella has been around for hundreds of years, the 16th century artist Bronzino spoke highly of a dish made with onions,cucumber, purslane, vinegar, cane sugar and stale bread that he was served in Florence while he studied there. This dish it is believed to be an ancestor of what we know today as Panzanella.

As with most Italian dishes there is much discussion and conjecture as to where Panzanella originated, some believe in Florence, some believe in Tuscany others even think it came to Italy with the spice trade used Sicily as a port.

1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 anchovy fillets
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 celery stick, thinly sliced
1 small red pepper, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks
1 small yellow pepper, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks
1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 handful freshly podded broad beans
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
tbsp sugar
3tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and  pepper
100g bread, toasted on a griddle-pan
shaved Parmesan
8 basil leaves, roughly torn

Blanch the carrot in a pan of boiling salted water for five minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and stir in the anchovies. Cook until they have almost dissolved into the oil. Then add the onion and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes, then add the broad beans, peppers and courgette then cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then stir in the thyme leaves, sugar and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the carrot then cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and place in a large bowl for mixing.

Break the toasted bread slices into bite-sized pieces and then add to the bowl of vegetables with the basila and shaved Parmesan and toss together well then serve.





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