Panzanella  –  serves 4 as a starter

Try Theo’s take on this classic Italian dish and popular summer salad, Panzanella (Tuscan tomato and bread salad):

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this salad. It’s a traditional Italian way to use up leftover bread. There are other versions, but this is a very simple way to make it. If you only have very soft, fresh bread, try baking it for a few minutes to harden, then it will absorb the dressing without going soggy.

Theo Randall

Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 loaf of dry ciabatta bread
  • 300g heritage tomatoes, preferably of mixed colours
  • 1 heaped tsp small capers in vinegar, drained
  • a few anchovy fillets (packed in oil)

For the dressing

  • 400g ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 5 anchovy fillets (packed in oil)
  • small bunch of basil
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaped tsp small capers in vinegar, drained
  •  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a hot grill and char the red peppers on all sides. Put them in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before scraping off the charred skin with a serrated knife. Rinse off the seeds, then rip the peppers into 1cm strips. Set aside.

Make the dressing while the peppers are cooling in the bowl. Score the skin of the tomatoes, then put them into a pan of boiling water and leave to blanch for 1 minute. Lift into a bowl of cold water with a slotted spoon, then peel off the skins. Crush the garlic with 1 tspn sea salt in a pestle and mortar until smooth. Add the anchovies and half the basil, pounding to a paste.  Squeeze the peeled tomatoes to a pulp, then add to the garlic and anchovies. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar and capers. Mix well together.

Remove the crusts from the ciabatta, then cut into 2cm pieces. Put them in a large salad bowl and add the grilled peppers. Pour over the anchovy and tomato dressing and toss well so the bread can soak up all the dressing.

Roughly cut up the heritage tomatoes and toss with the rest of the basil leaves in a separate bowl. Spread the tomatoes and basil over the top of the salad, then add the capers and a few whole anchovy fillets.

Clean up the sides of the bowl before serving.

interior

But if you feel like someone else prepare something for you, then head to Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, where you will have a choice of classic Italian dishes. Also, don’t forget, foodie members of the Luxury Restaurant Club are recognised with extra privileges at the finest restaurants with welcome drinks at Theo Randall. Join the Club by downloading the free Luxury Restaurant Guide app here and follow the quick steps to join.

Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, 1 Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London W1J 7QY,

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