Mozzarella, Bacon and Olive Panzanella salad

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I have to admit, i’m really not much of a salad girl. I appreciate them in theory; fresh tastes, bright colours, good for you in so many ways, etc etc. The thing is though, i just don’t eat that many of them. If i’m out at a restaurant I’ll hardly ever order a salad. I can’t get past the fact if I’m eating out I want to feel like i’m having a treat and salad, to me, just doesn’t feel like a treat. Unfortunately it doesn’t bode very well for my waistline when that ‘treat’ I feel I deserve usually involves ordering the thing that comes with a side of home made chips.

Panzanella, however, is a salad I can really get behind. Mostly because it involves great big hunks of olive oil soaked bread. The concept of Panzanella is actually one quite new to me. It is an Italian word meaning a salad made up of ripe tomatoes (although older records suggest onions are more of a key ingredient) and stale bread. It really is an amazing salad. The bread soaks up all the flavours from the other ingredients and you’re left with cubes of salty, baconey bread. The perfect pairing to ripe tomatoes, olives and basil.

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If you don’t happen to have a spare chunk of stale bread hanging around (there never is in our house. If there’s good bread around it’s gone in a flash) you can make some by chopping up fresh bread and popping it in a warm oven for about 15 minutes until it starts to dry out. You don’t want to let it get crispy, but it needs to be quite dry in order to soak up all those lovely oils and juices without going unappealingly soggy.

This is the perfect salad for a summer evening. We ate ours on Sunday evening, watching the sun go down.

Mozzarella, Bacon and Olive Panzanella Salad

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Ingredients 

Half a small stale ciabatta loaf

1 clove of garlic

3 large ripe tomatoes

1 ball of mozerella (about 100g)

1 tsp capers

1 tbsp black olives

50g bacon (or about 3 slices)

handful fresh basil leaves

freshly ground black pepper

tbsp olive oil

Method

Chop the garlic clove in half and rub it all around the inside of a large salad bowl.

Chop your tomatoes and add to the bowl. Add the olive oil, black pepper, capers and olives and give it all a good mix together. This will allow the lovely flavours to begin to soak into the tomatoes and make them extra tasty.

Rip up the mozzerella with your hands and add to the bowl. Chop the bread into small squares and throw this in too.

Fry your bacon until starting to turn crispy and golden. Add to the bowl.

Finally, throw in your basil leaves and give everything a good stir together.

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