Happy November! And so begins the countdown to warmer climes and vibrantly coloured foodstuffs. After spotting the first of the summer beefsteak tomatoes in my local supermarket, I simply had to buy up a glut to be marinaded in good local EVOO and balsamic for a sexy little salad.
Not quite a Caprese (no basil or mozzarella) and not quite a Panzanella (no capers, red wine vinegar or anchovies), what this tasty little hybrid lacks in authenticity she sure does make up for in flavour. A bit of a fridge-dip winner, I threw the salad together using store cupboard staples like a good balsamic vinegar and grassy olive oil. The croutons are day-old sourdough from my favourite Rosemead Bakery tossed with garlic, EVOO, rosemary and salt and toasted in the oven until golden and crisp. The tomatoes need to be properly ripe – they are of course the star of the show. Feel free to add in anchovies – brown or white Spanish boquerones – and capers to give the panzanella more depth.
Pairing my creation with Babylonstoren‘s latest release of their Mourvèdre Rosé brought all those rosy tomatoey flavours to the fore, with the earthiness of the rosemary croutons and fresh oregano from the garden providing a verdantly delicious base.
Redolent of ripe strawberries and rose petals, for me this sunshiny sipper pairs best with local trout, fresh peaches and that summer staple – tomatoes.
For the panzanella:
- 400g heirloom tomatoes, washed and quartered
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 4 slices of stale sourdough or ciabatta
- Olive oil
- 30ml balsamic vinegar
- 2 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped from woody stalks
- Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
- 1-2 brown anchovy fillets (finely chopped) and baby capers, optional
For the croutons, roughly tear the sourdough bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roughly tear over the rosemary. Add in the crushed garlic, season the bread with sea salt and scatter over a lined baking sheet. Toast the sourdough croutons on the lower rack for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
To assemble the Panzanella, combine the quartered tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar, oregano leaves and the anchovies and capers – if using. Drizzle over about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season the salad with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir through the sourdough croutons.