How I have missed Italy over the summer, my pots of basil on the terrace, local ‘pera’ and cherry tomatoes whose cousins in Rhode Island never quite seem to meet those high soprano notes of the ones back in Abruzzo. In an effort to rekindle those flavours, as the heat subsides I’ve started making a chunky Panzanella for lunch, central Italy’s famous cucina povera tomato, red onion, bread and basil salad that seems fitting as we begin to look ‘Autumn’ in the eye.
- ½ Red Onion, thinly sliced
- 8 Tomatoes (Ripe)
- 200 g Crusty Rustic Bread (day old preferably)
- 4 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Capers
- 1 small clove of Garlic, crushed
- 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Small bunch of fresh Basil
- Salt & Pepper
- Put the onion slices in a bowl of cold water with a pinch of salt, and leave to soak for an hour.
- Cut the tomatoes into large dice and place in a colander set over a bowl. Salt and leave to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Tear the bread into chunks about the same size as the tomatoes, put into a salad bowl and moisten with vinegar. Drain the onion and add to the bowl, along with the capers.Gently press the tomatoes to squeeze out the last juice, then put the flesh in the bowl.
- Stir the crushed garlic into the tomato juice and then whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste.
- Pour on to the salad and toss thoroughly. Roughly tear the basil leaves and sprinkle on top. Allow to sit for between 15 minutes and an hour, then serve.