Tuesday 16 July 2013

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As I told you the other day I picked up a couple of bags of beautifully ripe and Cheshire grown tomatoes in town on Saturday.   I had in mind to make a lovely Panzanella salad for our supper that night.   I got lucky and also scored a day old loaf of bread at the cheese shop for half price too.

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To be honest it was hard not to go crazy in the vegetable market as everything looked so good and was so reasonably priced.  I have Basil growing in my garden at the moment, but my parsley isn't doing very well this year for some reason, and so I picked up a handful of gorgeous flat leaf parsley as well.  (Did you know you can keep fresh cut herbs very well on the counter top by cutting the ends and slipping them into a glass of cold fresh water, just like a beautiful green bouquet.  Just remember to change the water every day.  They'll last quite a while this way.)

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I love Panzanella salad.  It's fabulous peasant food . . . using simple and fresh ingredients, along with stale bread in the most delicious way.   Leave it to the Italians to turn a silk purse out of a sow's ear, or in this case a stale loaf of bread!

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Chunky cut ripe tomatoes, likewise cucumber . . . chopped peppers, red onions, capers, olives, fresh herbs, seasoned and toasted stale bread . . .  tossed together with  a punchy vinaigrette dressing make this one of the tastiest and easiest offerings on a hot summer's day!   I love the stuff!

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I even love the leftovers.  I store them in the refrigerator overnight and then take them out the next day, bringing them to room temperature.  They make a fabulous light lunch!  When I was a girl my favourite summer lunch used to be a tin of chopped tomatoes with a slice of buttered bread.   This is kind of the same idea . . . except it's been jazzed up.  Yes . . . I am a tomato lover extraordinaire!

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Serves 4 to 6
This is what you make when the summer tomatoes are ripe for the picking and the outside temps are soaring.   Fabulous!!  

For the bread:
1/2 day old French boule,  sliced into 1/2 inch slices and then cut into 1/2 inch cubes
fine sea salt
cracked black pepper
2 TBS of good quality olive oil
For the Salad:
6 medium sized ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 each red and yellow peppers, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 an English Cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small red onion (cut in half lengthwise, reserve 1/2 for another use, then peel the other half.  Cut into thin half moons)
1 handful each of dry cured pitted black and green olives, quartered
1 heaped TBS  nonpareil capers, rinsed and drained
about 10 large basil leaves, cut chiffonade (Stack them together, roll them up tightly, and slice across thinly)
a small handful of flat leaf parsley coarsely chopped

For the dressing:
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/2 small shallot, peeled and finely minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 TBS sherry vinegar
125ml good quality olive oil (1/2 cup)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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First make the vinaigrette.  Put all of the ingredients into a screw top jar, give them a good shake and then set aside.

Put your bread into a bowl.  Toss together with the olive oil, pepper and salt.  Heat a large frying pan over medium low heat.  Add the bread cubes.  Toast the bread, tossing it frequently, until the cubes are golden.  You may need to add more oil, but try not to as you don't want them to be greasy.

Place all of the cut vegetables into a bowl along with the olives and capers.   Add the toasted bread  Shake your salad dressing in the jar again and pour it over top.  Toss all together.   Allow to sit half an hour.  Add the basil and parsley, toss again and then taste for seasoning.  Adjust as necessary.   Serve immediately.
Note:  I love the leftovers of this.  I just pack any that's left into a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.  Just be sure to bring them to room temperature before eating.


  1. I know what I am having for lunch. Great tip about the herbs, I hadn't thought of that, yet it is so obvious really.

  2. It is delicious isn't it?
    It's been a while but we enjoyed it too!

  3. A big bowl of this stuff is the best thing for dinner on a hot summer night!


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