On the menu

Recipe of the week: panzanella

River Cottage’s Gelf Alderson likes to include berries in this ‘wondrous’ summer salad

Panzanella

I couldn’t write a book about salads without including a recipe for panzanella, says Gelf Alderson. It’s such a wondrous thing. At River Cottage, we like to include a little fruit, as it enhances the flavour of the tomatoes. Strawberries are my favourite addition, but gooseberries and raspberries are good too.

Ingredients: serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
  • 2 slices of slightly stale sourdough or ciabatta 
  • 1kg mixed, slightly over-ripe, tomatoes 
  • 1⁄2 a cucumber 
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp capers, roughly chopped 
  • 100g black Kalamata olives, pitted 
  • 150g halved gooseberries, quartered strawberries or whole raspberries
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
  • a small bunch of basil (25g), leaves picked
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
  • Tear the bread into large chunks and scatter on a baking tray.
  • Toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes until crisp and lightly golden, turning once. Remove and allow to cool.
  • Pick the ripest 2 tomatoes (fairly soft is fine) and squish them in your hands into a sieve set over a large bowl.
  • Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the tomato flesh through the sieve; discard the
  • seeds and skins. Cut the rest of the tomatoes into wedges or chop them roughly and add to the bowl containing the tomato juice.
  • Dice the cucumber and add to the tomatoes with the red onion, capers, olives, and your choice of fruit.
  • Toss in the toasted bread chunks and trickle in the olive oil. Roughly tear half of the basil leaves into the salad. Tumble everything together and allow the salad to sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • Season the panzanella with salt and pepper to taste and give it a final toss. Tear over the remaining basil and serve.
  • Swaps: if you can get it, try using lovage instead of the basil – it works beautifully. Celery leaves are a good swap too.

Taken from River Cottage Great Salads by Gelf Alderson, published by Bloomsbury at £20. Photography by Emma Lee. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £15.99, call 020-3176 3835 or visit theweekbookshop.co.uk.

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