Panzanella (11)

To continue the Italian theme from last week, may I present panzanella:  the most fresh and summery of dishes.  When I eat it, I can practically see the lakes and mountains of Italy stretching before me.  Italian food fits in with my image of an ideal summer, one without the oppressive, sticky heat of Hong Kong, but the sultry warm evenings of Europe, where all anybody could possibly want is to sit outside with a light meal, a glass of wine and good company, enjoying the sunset.



Serves 4-6, from The Accidental Vegetarian


1 kg plum tomatoes

2 red peppers, quartered and deseeded

2 yellow peppers, quartered and deseeded

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

100g capers

12 large black olives

1 ciabatta loaf, preferably stale

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

5 garlic cloves, crushed

150ml extra virgin olive oil

handful fresh basil leaves


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1.  Preheat the oven to 200C and roast the peppers in a little oil for about 30 minutes.

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2.  Skin the tomatoes by scoring a cross on the bottom and sitting them in boiling water.  Peel and quarter them.  Scoop out the seeds into a sieve, and press to release the juice into a bowl below.  Put the quarters into a separate bowl.

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3.  Skin and halve the roasted pepper slices.  Add them to the tomato quarters with the chilli, capers and olives.

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4.  Tear the bread into big chunks and put in a separate bowl.

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5.  Add the vinegar, garlic, oil and seasoning to the tomato juice and whisk well.

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6.  Pour this mixture over the bread and leave for 1 hour.

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7. Finally, gently combine the tomato and pepper mixture with the bread and dressing, and garnish with basil leaves.

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