Panzanella is the traditional Italian tomato and bread salad. It is a peasant dish born of necessity to use up stale bread. Although there are numerous variations of the recipe, they all conform to using the country-style dry Tuscan bread. Don’t waste your time using fresh bread as it will disintegrate. Other optional ingredients include roasted peppers, olives and anchovies.
In this version, I have used a selection of wild mushrooms with basil. The dish makes a tasty starter and for a parev or vegan option just omit the mozzarella.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F or Gas Mark 6.
Drizzle the bread with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Place in the oven for 8 minutes or until golden. Remove and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and sauté the garlic and onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Remove and set aside.
Then sauté the mushrooms until golden. Cook until nearly all the juices have been absorbed. Add the cooked onion, garlic and lemon juice and season. Remove and set aside.
Tear the mozzarella into pieces and add the tomatoes.
Combine all the ingredients and serve.
To serve the stylish way: Garnish with sprigs of coriander, shredded spring onions and a dusting of black pepper.
3 tablespoons olive oil
200g Italian bread eg ciabatta – cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped
1 red onion – peeled and finely chopped
650g mixed mushrooms – sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
100g heirloom / baby plum tomatoes- cut in half
125g buffalo mozzarella
4 tablespoons fresh basil – roughly chopped
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Serves 4 – Preparation time: 15 minutes – Cooking time 20 minutes