I made this summer salad, the ultimate in cucina povera, last night using all home-grown ingredients from the gorgeous knobbly tomatoes, to the over-ripened padron pepper which had turned red and spicy, to the absurd dolls house 'mouse melons' which taste of sour cucumber. The latter are very popular in Mexican cuisine. We've grown them for the first time this summer, on recommendation from Tom Moggach, author of The Urban Kitchen Gardener, an unusual and cute addition to our repertoire. The garden is stunning right now. What a fantastic year, so needed after the depressing yield of last year.
I've had panzanella salads with flat bread and with pizza dough but proper sourdough is the right way to go, for both taste and texture.
We had most of it last night but I mopped up the rest this morning and it was even better.
150-170g of torn up sourdough bread
1 clove of garlic, grated finely
10 tasty tomatoes
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 chilli pepper, deseeded, sliced thinly
Half a cucumber, peeled and julienned (if you don't have mouse melons)
A handful of basil leaves
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
A handful of mouse melons, some sliced, some whole
Put your torn up sourdough onto an oven proof dish and toss with olive oil. Grate a clove of garlic over it and toss again.
Place in a low oven until slightly crispy at the edges. About 15 minutes.
In the meantime, slice the tomatoes, I did some sliced and some quartered.
Toss the onion, chilli pepper and cucumber (optional) with salt.
Then toss all the ingredients together with the basil leaves, red wine vinegar, adding olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste, then mix together including the sourdough.
Add the mousemelons on top.
To accompany this I did a quick bean dish:
2 red peppers from Riverford organics
1 clove garlic, minced
1 box of cannelini beans (380g)
Salt and pepper
1 swirl of truffle oil
We've grown chillis, aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes and possibly sweet potatoes but no red peppers this year. So I roasted two from Riverford until the skins were black. I then peeled the skins off and ripped the pepper into soft strips, removing the seeds.
Using an oven proof dish, douse the red pepper strips with olive oil, salt and grated garlic, mix with the box of cannelini beans and heat for 15-20 minutes in a hot oven. When you remove it from the oven, add a swirl of truffle oil and black pepper.
Tomorrow we have the Secret Garden Club session on Italian vegetables: tickets £30 for workshop and supper