The idea for the Panzanella (Italian bread and tomato) salad came after I’d eaten a small tub of chilli and chives marinated Persian feta and was going to use the oil with feta crumbs for our salad dressing. Then I thought, why not baste bread slices in the feta oil and grill them till slightly crusty and serve those with the salad instead.
You know the times when you go to a restaurant and are smitten by the entree, only to get to the main and leave totally disappointed? Well, that was dinner date at our place last night…
Anyway, following this delicious Panzanella salad starter which Mr Chipconnoisseur described as “that was as good as you’d find in a top notch restaurant, mmm”, I served what could only be described as a disaster. It was meant to be a beef schnitzel, but texturally, it resembled something closer to a sole of a Dunlop Volley. Not that I’ve ever eaten one, but it’s what I’d imagine it to taste like. It was so overcooked and dry that I think one of the pieces which I accidently swallowed without much chewing, cut open my throat. Short of calling an ambulance, I apologised to my dinner date for the life-threatening state of the main and blamed it, not on the lack of my culinary prowess, because normally I am quite good, but on Brad Pitt as it was his movie, Moneyball, which we were watching that caused the schnitzels to overcook. Not happy, Brad!
I’m not sure if my excuse worked, or was appropriate, but the lemon delicious puddings for dessert sure helped brighten up the mood. And as for the salad, it is one of the most wonderful dishes I’ve had in a while and I will be sure to make it again. Perhaps as the main next time to avoid any more dinner date disappointments.
Dinnerdate Panzanella Salad
For the Panzanella Salad:
- 220 g baby bocconcini cheese balls drained and cut in half
- 2 ripe large truss tomatoes diced
- 8 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
- 4 slices cucumber diced finely
- 1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 2 tbsp French dressing
For the bread:
- 6 inch baguette or Vietnamese bread roll
- Oil with Persian feta crumbs
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander stems
- salt and pepper
- To make the Panzanella Salad:
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
To make the bread:
- Slice bread rolls then cut across in half.
- Baste with feta oil and cook under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the bread is just starting to turn golden but is still soft in the middle.
- Arrange grilled bread on your pserving plate, top with diced salad and sprinkle generously with chopped coriander stem.
- Season with salt and pepper if you like.