This is a twist on the traditional panzanella, a classic cucina povera dish which is usually made with tomatoes and bread. In this recipe I have used a variety of vegetables and cooked them with sugar and vinegar to give them an extra kick! If you can find fresella, the Pugliese hard double-baked bread, in your local deli, I suggest you use it, otherwise good country bread slowly cooked in the oven will do. This dish can be served warm or cold and, if you increase the quantities, makes a lovely light lunch.
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into julienne strips
- 120 g celeriac, peeled and cut into julienne strips
- 125 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 French shallots, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ red capsicum (pepper), deseeded and cut into julienne strips
- ½ yellow capsicum (pepper), deseeded and cut into julienne strips
- ½ eggplant (aubergine), cut into julienne strips
- 1 small zucchini (courgette), cut into julienne strips
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100 g fresella, softened with water, or toasted country bread
- 8 basil leaves, roughly torn
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Blanch the carrot and celeriac strips in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the anchovies and cook, stirring, until they have almost dissolved into the oil.
Add the shallots and garlic and sweat over a medium-high heat until softened.
Add the capsicum, eggplant and zucchini strips and cook, stirring, over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then stir in the thyme leaves, sugar and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the blanched carrot and celeriac to the pan – taking care not to squash and break them – cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Break the fresella or toasted country bread slices into bite-size pieces and assemble in a serving dish.
Top with the vegetables, scatter over the basil leaves and drizzle with a little oil. Serve immediately.