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The best winter panzanella

The best winter panzanella

Martha Collison's twist on a classic Italian salad makes the most of overripe tomatoes.

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  • Serves4
  • CourseLunch
  • Prepare10 mins
  • Cook30 mins
  • Total time40 mins

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  • 270g crusty bread, ideally a few days old (I used plain ciabatta)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 750g mixed tomatoes
  • 3 clove/s garlic clove
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced into thin half moons
  • 350g can Essential Pitted Black Olives, drained
  • 150g Essential Mini Mozzarella Balls, drained, a little torn if liked
  • ½ x 25g pack basil, leaves only

For the dressing

  • 50g butter
  • 2 tsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC, gas mark 7. Tear the loaf into rough bitesized chunks and scatter onto a baking tray. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and toss well to coat, then bake for 10 minutes to dry the bread out and crisp up the surface

  2. Place the tomatoes in a roasting tin, leaving small cherry ones whole and chopping larger ones into wedges. Squash the garlic cloves (still in their papery skin) with the back of a knife and add to the dish. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil, season, then bake for 20 minutes, adding the onion and olives halfway through.

  3. To make the dressing, melt the butter over a medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the capers, then continue to cook the butter for around 5 minutes, stirring often, until it looks foamy and the milk solids begin to brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes will have released a lot of juice in the oven, so measure out 3 tbsp and whisk into the dressing until it emulsifies.

  4. Place the crispy bread into a large bowl. Spoon the roasted tomatoes, onions and olives on top of the bread, then toss well. Drizzle over the dressing and toss again, until everything is well coated. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, for the bread to absorb the juices. Add the mozzarella balls and basil and serve.

Cook’s tip

Stale bread? Panzanella works best with bread that has gone a little dry, as it’s robust enough to absorb the dressing without falling apart. If you’ve only got fresh bread and crave this salad, you can still make it. Just add a few more minutes to the roasting time so it’s as dry as possible.

Tomato choices I love a mix of tomatoes in this recipe – a few big, beefy tomatoes sliced into wedges, halved savoury green tomatoes and super sweet cherry tomatoes in red and green – vary the mix according to what tomatoes you have to hand.

To make ahead I’d recommend holding back the bread and dressing and mixing 30 minutes before you want to eat. The salad is delicious hot or cold, so try it both ways on its own, or make it more of a substantial meal by serving it with cooked salmon, or chicken on the side.


Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe


2,352kJ/ 564kcals



Saturated Fat












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