This panzanella recipe is easy and delicious. A real celebration of simple ingredients. The ripe tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil make this peasant salad a real feast.
Trim the crusts carefully from the ciabatta and cut into roughly 2.5 cm cubes. Place on a wire rack to continue drying out.
Wash and slice a thin slice from the top of the tomatoes to remove most of the woody stem. Quarter them and place in a sieve over a bowl. Salt with 1 tsp of fine sea salt and give them a gentle mix. Set aside for half an hour. The tomatoes will drip into the bowl beneath.
Slice the red onion very thinly about 1 mm thick and place in the bottom of your serving dish. Mince or finely grate the garlic and add that to the bowl. Tip in the vinegar and give a mix to coat well.
After half an hour remove the seeds from the tomatoes. I find using my thumb the most effective way.
Discard the seeds and chop up the tomatoes finely. I use my food processor here but feel free to chop, chop, chop away. You are after a tomato roughly chopped soup.
Tip them into the serving bowl and sprinkle the tomatoes with another 1 tsp of fine sea salt and ¼ tsp of caster sugar. Give the lot a mix.
Add the ciabatta cubes, chopped basil, extra virgin olive oil and 120 mls of the salty tomato drippings from the bowl beneath the sieve. There will be some left over in the bowl after you have taken 120 mls. You could keep and use it to flavour sauces, dressings, stews or a bolognese etc.
Turn the whole lot carefully together. I use my clean hands but wear disposable gloves if you have any cuts. Cover and leave for at least two hours at room temperature to steep. You can leave it for up to 6 hours.
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