Bagel panzanella salad

Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan salad, made with leftover stale sourdough and plenty of tomatoes. You can certainly stick to the original recipe and use bread, otherwise, here I propose an alternative version using bagels instead. Make this in summer when tomatoes are in season, exploding with flavour — get the best you can — and try to mix a couple of different types for colour and taste. I love to add olives, peppers and plenty of basil. A good quality extra virgin olive oil (and lots of it) is also a must. Enjoy!

Photo: Inbal Bar Oz


Ingredients 2 yellow/orange/red peppers 700g ripe red and yellow cherry or plum tomatoes 100g pitted black olives (kalamata or Taggiasca if possible) ½ small red onion, finely sliced 2 anchovy fillets (optional) ½ clove of garlic, crushed (optional) 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 5-6 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil 2 bagels, halved A bunch of fresh basil Sea salt crystals and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

  • Preheat oven to 220°C (fan).

  • Slice the tops off the peppers and remove the stems, seeds and white membranes from inside. Rinse and put the whole peppers on an oven tray lined with baking parchment.

  • Roast for about 40 minutes. When most of the skin is charred or deep golden, and the flesh softened, place on a colander or sieve over a bowl, cover with cling film, and when cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Slice lengthways into 1cm-thick strips and return to the colander or sieve over the bowl to drain for a further 10 –15 minutes.

  • Toast the bagel halves, then leave to dry until you prepare all the other ingredients. They should be crunchy outside and a little soft within. Break into bite sized chunks.

  • Wash the tomatoes, halve or dice them depending on the size, and place into a large salad bowl with the olives.

  • Add the sliced roasted peppers, olives and a few basil leaves.

  • Soak the red onion in a small bowl of cold water with a pinch of salt for about 20 minutes - this reduces the sharpness of the raw onion, making it easier to digest. Drain and add to the tomatoes.

  • To make the dressing: crush the anchovy fillets (if using) with the crushed garlic, red wine vinegar, 4 tbsp of the olive oil, ½ tsp of sea salt and a good pinch of black pepper.

  • Stir well and add to the tomato mixture, stir again, cover and set aside until everything else is ready. You can do this a few hours ahead. l The longer it sits the more tasty juices the tomatoes will produce.

  • Add to the tomatoes and stir, so the bagel absorbs much of the liquid.

  • Transfer the salad to a shallow serving bowl with all the juices and garnish with basil leaves and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.