Panzanella, (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)

I faced a problem some days ago after too much Christmas food. I craved for Panzanella. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is that a problem? Yes, here in Sweden it is because you need tomatoes for a Panzanella. And the tomatoes taste nothing here at this time of year. At least most of them.

It must be possible to make a decent Panzanella here in the north even if it’s in the middle of freezing winter. At least I tried to convince myself of that.
So I went to the grocery store and bought the best tomatoes I could find. They were not that bad. It was more flavor in them than I had expected.

But I had read that it is possible to coax a little more concentrated flavor out of them by salting and draining them.
So that was just what I did. The result was above expectations. The tomatoes tasted more, and they were even slightly crispier.


I decided to save the drained tomato juice for the vinaigrette. There was still some tomato flavor left in it. Instead of wasting it I could spread it all over the salad.

After that, it was time to think about the rest of the ingredients. One of the main ingredients together with the tomatoes is, of course, the bread.
You may have read that you should use fresh roasted bread for the best result. Because I hate to waste food I always try to use some of the stale bread pieces that usually remain in the bread box. I think that dishes like Panzanella was invented for that purpose. They gave poor people an opportunity to use pieces of stale bread that everybody had in their bread box.

But the bread still needs som softness. You don’t want croutons in your Panzanella. It should be crispy on the surface and soft in the middle.
Just rip the bread into pieces and roast them in the oven for a few minutes. Just enough to give them some crispiness and some nice color.

Bread
Crispy on the surface and soft in the middle.

I think you need a minimum of five ingredients for a classic Panzanella.
Tomatoes, bread, garlic, red onion and basil. But I wanted something more. I just love grilled bell pepper, so I included that as well.


But there was another reason to include the bell pepper. Even if the tomatoes was quite good, they still lacked som sweetness. That’s exactly what you get when you grill bell pepper.

Some people have problems with raw onion. But there’s a trick to reduce its pungency. Soak the sliced onion in ice cold water. That will draw out the sulfates and make it more tolerable.

A Panzanella also needs a high-quality vinaigrette. I used olive oil, red wine vinegar, some of the tomato juice and a small dollop of Dijon mustard. The mustard helps the vinaigrette staying together better. It doesn’t matter how much you whisk. The oil and the vinegar will separate if you don’t add something emulsifying.

Always use your (clean of course) hands when you’re dressing a salad. Your salad spoon and fork are not as gentle as your hands, and they won’t tell you if the salad had enough of dressing.
After that, the only thing left to do is to enjoy the salad. Perhaps with a glass of white wine.


In conclusion, I would like to point out that you can add more ingredients. I have been using anchovies and capers with excellent results. Be careful with the anchovies, though. Otherwise, they may take over the whole show.

Panzanella
With anchovies and capers.

Apart from that, I only have one more thing to say.
It was possible to make a decent Panzanella in the middle of the winter.

 

Print Recipe
Panzanella, (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)
A classic Panzanella. A Tuscan bread and tomato salad that makes you believe the summer is here, even if it's in the middle of winter.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Optional ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Optional ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut tomatoes in half and place them in a strainer or colander over a bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt and toss to get everything coated. Let the tomatoes drain for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Rip the bread into pieces and roast them in the oven at 350°/180°C for about 10 minutes. They should be crisp and firm and just slightly browned.
  3. Grill the bell pepper and cut it into slices. Cut the red onion into thin slices and soak them in ice cold water if you want to reduce the pungency.
  4. Add garlic, vinegar, some of the drained tomato juice, olive oil and mustard in a bowl and whisk to a homogeny dressing
  5. Put bread, vegetables, dressing, and basil in a large bowl. Wash your hands properly and mix everything thoroughly. Wait a few minutes before serving to allow the bread to absorb some of the dressing.
Share this...
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Yummly
Continue Reading

Ricotta balls spiced with herbs and lemon

 

Ricotta ballsI always seem to have som leftover Ricotta cheese in my fridge. I buy it for some recipe but seldom use all of it. So I put the rest back into the fridge and try to convince myself that I will use it for something else, which I seldom do. So most of the times, I have to throw it away.
I hate that.
I hate all kind of food waste. But eating something that it has begun to grow green hairy things on is not an option.

But last weekend, I tested a recipe that will change everything.
No more wasted ricotta cheese, ever. These ricotta balls will put an end to that. You will also have use of those stale bread pieces that you, at best, might have been feeding the pigeons.
They’re so simple to make and contains ingredients that you usually have at home. You need ricotta cheese, some stale bread, egg, and some breadcrumbs. Then you can spice them with whatever you like. You don’t have to follow my recipe. All kind of herbs will do. I used parsley, Oregano, rosemary, and some lemon zest for this recipe. I think that you can consider the lemon zest as optional, but I do recommend it. It added som nice freshness. And next time I will definitely use basil.

Batter

Lemons


You mix everything into a batter that you are shaping to balls. Then roll them in bread crumbs and fry them golden brown on medium heat in olive oil.
It’s as simple as that.

I served these ricotta balls as a side dish together with marinated grilled chicken and pesto. But I think they will do well with only a high-quality tomato sauce. I think I will try that next time. I always have some homemade tomato sauce in the freezer.

Share this...
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Yummly
Print Recipe
Ricotta balls spiced with herbs and lemon
Ricotta balls
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Ricotta balls
Instructions
  1. Cut away any crusts from the bread and crumble it. Mix it with all other ingredients. Add more bread if the consistency is too loose. Add salt and pepper to your tasting.
  2. Roll into balls that you cover with breadcrumbs.
  3. Fry them in olive oil until they have got a nice golden color.
  4. Let them drain on kitchen towels
Continue Reading