Panzanella salad recipe

To us, there's no better salad to enjoy al fresco in spring and summer than panzanella. Hailing from Tuscany, it pairs stale bread with plenty of fresh tomatoes, grilled red peppers, olives, garlic, olive oil and more. Serve on it's own as a light lunch with a cold glass of white or add a piece of grilled cod, hake or sea bass for the perfect supper.

Rick says:
"We're all too keen to throw bread away when it gets stale but if you hold some back it makes a wonderful crunchy element of a salad once grilled."

Watch Rick make this simple recipe

Ingredients for panzanella salad

Serves 4

- 1 good-sized loaf of ciabatta bread
- ½ cucumber
-1 small red pepper
- 750g medium vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers in brine, drained and rinsed
- 100g small, well flavoured black olives
- 25g basil leaves, torn into pieces
- Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

How to make panzanella salad

1) Pre-heat the grill to high. Cut the bread into 1cm thick slices and toast them very lightly on both sides until just starting to colour. Leave to cool and then break into rough 2.5cm pieces.

2) Peel the cucumber, cut it in half length ways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut across into slices. Grill the red pepper for 7-8 minutes, turning it now and then, until the skin has blistered and blackened. Put it in a plastic bag and leave to cool.  Then peel off the skin, remove the stalk and seeds, and cut the flesh into chunky strips.

3) Cut the tomatoes into quarters, scoop out the seeds and juice and press the seeds through a sieve into a large bowl. Cut the flesh of the tomatoes into rough 2.5cm pieces.

4) Crush the garlic and add to the tomato juice in the bowl. Stir in the vinegar, olive oil and some seasoning.

5) Five minutes before serving, add the pieces of bread to the salad bowl and toss together well with the tomato dressing. Add the cucumber, red pepper, tomatoes, red onion, capers, olives and basil and check the seasoning. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow time for the bread to soften slightly.

6) To serve, pile the mixture into the centre of 4 large plates, drizzle over a little more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Follow these simple steps to make Rick's panzanella salad to pair with a fillet of your favourite fish. The perfect pair.

Happy cooking.

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