I’ve rewritten this post a bit, and taken some new pictures. Panzanella is gorgeous with very ripe, full flavoured summer tomatoes.
In 2013, I tried Panzanella for the first time. I was looking through one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s books for inspiration for what to have for dinner and came across it. I have never fancied it before but this was totally scrummy.
I’d managed to get a huge carrier bag of smashing summer ripened tomatoes from the local greengrocer at just 20p a pound. And I used the very last half tomato from that huge bag of giant beefsteak ones and the end of a baguette that had gone hard, so this cost very little indeed. You could use the end crusts from a sliced loaf, a reduced speciality loaf, or any stale bread you have. However, I will list the ingredients and cost them as if purchased especially. If you have any tomatoes in the garden, or can beg some from a friend, this will be even cheaper.
Most recipes say that you need to let the bread soften in the tomato juices, but I don’t like that and eat mine while the croutons are still crunchy, it’s delicious!
if you have olive oil, use it in this, it will give a delicious flavour. I wanted to try it with cheap rape seed oil to see if it was ok, and it was more than ok. Additions if you have them available could include, green or black olives, capers, gherkins or crispy bacon, complete with the cooking juices
If you don’t have any fresh basil leaves, this will work without
The new pictures show a variation where I used just an ordinary sliced white loaf and cut it into chunky croutons. It worked very well, no need for posh sourdough or anything like that
- 400 g tomatoes extra flavoured summer ones, £2.16/kg, 86p
- 250 g bread 55p a loaf, 17p
- 40 ml oil £1.09/litre, 4p
- basil leaves optional
- Cut the bread into chunky croutons
- Toss the bread with the oil and some salt and pepper
- Blast in the oven until browning and crispy
- Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes roughly, toss with more salt and pepper, a little more oil and the torn basil leaves
- Tip the croutons into the tomato mix, stir well and enjoy immediately while the croutons are still crunchy
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I’m a perpetual dieter, and to help with that endeavour, there is now also a Thrifty Lesley dieting group, a lovely, growing community