Wikipedia tells me that "panzanella" is: "a Florentine salad of bread and tomatoes popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar."
I had never heard of it before coming across this recipe, but it was amazing. VERY high maintenance, but delicious, despite my dislike of blood pudding.
High maintenance though. It took almost an hour to assemble.
You start by making croutons. Frying or grilling up small cubes of bread. Recipe asked for sourdough bread, but I just used what we had in the bread bin, which in this case was the husband's wholewheat homemade bread. Fried it with some salt and pepper and olive oil, till good and crispy. Put aside to cool.
Fry the blood pudding in slices. I am not a big fan of the stuff, and actually would probably have exchanged it for bacon if I hadn't been engaged in this project. Part of my agreement with myself when I started this was that I would try EVERYTHING, even the things I don't usually like. So far that has worked well, but I really wasn't keen on this. I think it would have been all right if I'd used significantly less, but I didn't, and I felt like it took over the salad a bit. In any case, if you like the stuff, it would probably work just fine. Husband liked it. :)
In any case, fry it up till crispy, break into chunks and set aside to cool.
Cook up some fresh broad beans in boiling water for about a minute. Sounds quick huh? Yeah, except we bought the still podded variety and I had to pod them all. Once they've been cooked in boiling water for a minute or two, pull them out, rinse them in cold water and then peel off the hard shells. You know, I am a big fan of skipping bits in high maintenance recipes, and this seems like a good opportunity, but it really is worth doing. The soft insides are not only much tastier and more succulent without their nasty casings, but they're also a brilliant emerald green colour which is really gorgeous. Set aside.
Mix in some salad greens in a large bowl. I used lettuce and rocket, but use whatever you like. Add some fresh herbs. The recipe said mint and basil, but I used various leafy things from our window box collection. Throw in the croutons, blood pudding and beans.
Finally, the vinaigrette: Throw two large tomatoes, a few anchovies, half a cup of good olive oil and a generous dash of red wine vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper into a food processor. Whirr till liquidy. Throw the lot over the salad. Toss it about.
It really is very good, and that vinaigrette is beautiful. But it did take a long time to assemble, and I am not sure it's THAT good. I'd have switched out the blood pudding for bacon, but to be honest, I probably won't make this again, just because of the effort involved. Unless I am really trying to impress someone.
Me: Meh. Not worth the time it took.
Husband: Meh. OK, but no great shakes.
(We both liked the vinaigrette though.)