Enter the Panzanella

NJAPP’s Catie Collins offers us some salubrious soggyness with her no-waste recipe for bread, tomatoes and olive oil.

If the headlines are anything to go by, not only is the world ending, but chances are you’re spending your final days with someone who has a penchant for white powder. A seeded secret. A crusty compulsion. Or perhaps it’s more of a wholemeal habit? We’ve become a nation of master bakers, hoarding flour like hungry squirrels, christening sourdough starters with obscure names, and kneading away the anxiety one loaf at a time. Even Stephen Fry is at it, with his Instagram feed documenting a progression from yeast-less soda bread to a pretty spectacular cob - although wheat-aside he’s worth a follow for his tie collection alone. Whilst this is all good and well, homemade bread poses a problem - and no, I’m not talking about the increased butter intake that a such a delicious vessel invites – I’m talking about waste. In the absence of preservatives, homemade loaves tend to slip into stale territory after just a couple of days, meaning that unless you are isolating with a pack of carb-loading marathon runners (in which case, poor you) there will undoubtedly be some hardened odds and ends kicking around.

Enter, (or entrare) the Panzanella - essentially a Tuscan salad of soggy bread and tomatoes, but that doesn’t sound quite so romantic. Steeped in the holy trinity of garlic, anchovies and olive oil, your bread will be rejuvenated beyond recognition, bounding though its second life with a punchy trail of vinegar in its wake.  As the months tick by and tomatoes come sweetly into season, this dish will only get more delicious – presumably your seedlings are already underway with gardening coming a close second in the self-isolation cliché stakes? A light supper or tasty side for your next BBQ, find our simple recipe below - just make sure you give it plenty of time to percolate. As with Bank Holidays, the soggier the better.


4 thick slices of stale bread – ideally sourdough

4 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp capers

1 red onion (halved & thinly sliced)

500g mixed ripe tomatoes (roughly cubed)

2 red peppers (halved & deseeded)

1 garlic clove (crushed)

3-4 anchovies (finely chopped)

Dash of honey

Fresh basil



  1. Tear the bread into chunks and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the white wine vinegar and capers. Stir and leave to stand.

  2. Soak the sliced onion in cold water and a little salt for an hour.

  3. Place the cubed tomatoes into a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle over a generous amount of salt and leave to drain for an hour.

  4. Roast the peppers with a little olive oil and salt for about 20 mins or starting to blacken. Remove skins and slice.

  5. Press the excess tomato juice through the sieve using the back of a spoon. Stir the cubed flesh into the bowl of bread along with the drained onion and peppers.

  6. Whisk the garlic and anchovies into the tomato juice with 6 tbsp olive oil (a little of the tinned anchovy oil is nice too), a drizzle of honey, and a swig of vinegar. Taste and season, adjusting as you go.

  7. Pour the dressing over the bread, stir well, and leave to sit for a bit. Serve on a large platter topped with fresh basil leaves.

Catie Collins @NotJustAPrettyPlate


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