Thursday, November 26, 2009

Panzanella


Panzanella is yet another one of those things we're forever on the fringes of, a salad cum meal that you never quite get into for fear of it not working out as authentic as they do in Northern Italy. It's really no more than a very old simple Tuscan tradition - a salad made with leftover bread, which would be unsalted, in the local style. If you want to make it the day before you eat it, it will taste even better. Comfort food in a very similar category as the day after cold pizza straight from the fridge - you got to love those Italians for some bastardised moments of sheer genius don't you?

12 large sardines
5 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
200g stale Tuscan bread or ciabatta, without crusts, torn up
4 tblsp white wine vinegar
3 tomatoes on the vine
1 large red onion, cut into 2cm dice
big bunch of basil
5 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

First, get a griddle pan smoking-hot, otherwise the sardines won't release their fat and will stick to the pan.

To make the panzanella: soak the bread in the vinegar. Take the tomatoes from the vine, dice and add to the bread, together with the chopped onion. Tear the basil and add that too. Add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir together and set aside.

Scale and fillet the sardine. Season, brush with a little of the olive oil and put on the hot grill, six at a time.

Let them get crusty on one side (about 3 minutes), then turn over and do the same on the other side (about 2 minutes). Spoon some panzanella on each serving plate.

Put the sardines on top, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve.