Panzanella

Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan summer salad. The simplest version I have had consisted of only bread, olive oil and tomatoes… basic ingredients that only work well in Tuscany due to the intensity of the flavour of the tomatoes and olive oil. Here, in North America, we need to “boost” the flavours a little and hence make a slightly more complex dish. Here’s what is needed:

Ingredients

  • Sacred Mountain black pepper and lavender mix and salt to taste
  • 1-2 stale ciabatta loaf(s)
  • 2 lb. fresh or canned plum tomatoes
  • garlic, crushed to a paste with salt
  • 1-2 cups good Tuscan (or alternate) virgin olive oil
  • a couple of Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 yellow peppers, roasted and peeled
  • capers
  • salted anchovies
  • pitted black olives
  • a hand-full of fresh basil and some dried lavender blossoms

Directions

Put half of the tomatoes in a blender and add half of the olive oil, the garlic, the pepper/lavender mix and the vinegar then blend. Add salt to taste. Arrange the bread slices on a platter to make a “first layer”. Ladle the fresh tomato sauce over the bread to coat the bread evenly. Now, arrange the peppers, sliced tomatoes, capers, anchovies, olives and basil on top of the bread. Place the next layer of bread on top of this first layer and add the ingredients as in the first layer. Repeat ’till you run out of ingredients. Make the final layer attractive by arranging the peppers and anchovies and topping everything off with basil. Let the dish rest at room-temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Drizzle with olive oil and lavender blossoms just before serving. This salad eats like a meal and is best served for lunch on a hot summer’s day, possibly along with a cool glass of Prosecco. Enjoy!

Buon appetito,
Matteo