Whether your summer is swelteringly hot or mild with a breeze, sunny days and more time spent outdoors have us naturally craving fresher, juicier, and lighter foods. The abundance of locally-grown fruits and vegetables popping up in grocery stores, farmers' markets, and especially our own gardens motivates us to savour their pure flavours and vibrant colours.
My summer favourite is, definitely, the tomato. Panzanella is a summer salad of Tuscan origin, artfully combining ripe tomatoes and old bread. Traditional Italian recipes are masterful in their use of old or stale ingredients, truly letting nothing go to waste. Of course, if you happen to have slightly unripe tomatoes or fresh bread, this recipe will still work. However, I challenge you to find the ripest, freshest tomatoes you can find and make this salad! There is really nothing better than a summer tomato: perfectly plump, almost bursting at the seams.
If you've been following along on my journey, then you know that I am currently living in Vancouver, Canada and have opened a bakery stall at farmers' markets in the Lower Mainland! Biweekly, I bake long-fermented sourdough bread using organic, locally-grown whole grains as well as a variety of other natural baked goods, all inspired by my life and travels in Europe. Most notable are my Swedish cinnamon buns (perfect for a midday fika!) and my authentic, Genovese focaccia (how could I not, right?). If you're local and you haven't visited yet, please come by, even if just to say hello!
Panzanella (Tuscan tomato and bread salad)
- 200 g bread, preferably sourdough
- 600 g tomatoes
- 50 g onion
- handful of fresh parsley
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
Chop the bread into cubes, 2 cm wide. If the bread is moist, toast it on a frying pan or under a broiler until it develops crispy edges. For more flavour, lightly coat the bread cubes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt before toasting.
Chop the tomatoes into pieces, roughly the same size as the bread, and add to a large bowl. Finely slice or chop the onion and add. Tear the parsley into the bowl, and drizzle with a few glugs of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mix just until combined. Rest for 10 minutes.
Add the bread to the bowl. Mix quickly. Rest for 10 minutes.
Serve, garnished with more extra virgin olive oil and flaky sea salt.