Panzanella

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Looking at the ingredients, this could be mistaken for a gazpacho before it gets whizzed into soup. In fact it's a classic Tuscan salad. It is one of many traditional ways of using up stale bread so nothing in the kitchen is wasted. Open textured rustic breads such as ciabatta are best for this as the oil and flavours can get into the air pockets. If you can't wait for your bread to go stale before turning it into salad, tear a fresh loaf into bite-sized chunks and dry them in the oven until they have a bit of a crunch to them.

4 x 11/2 cm thick slices of ciabatta or similar, crusts removed
6 ripe tomatoes, cut into rough chunks
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
Half a cucumber cut into pieces the same size as the tomato chunks
2 sticks of celery, peeled and thinly sliced
A handful of basil leaves, torn
6tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 175°C/gas mark 4. Break the bread into small, rough bite-sized pieces and partly dry in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Put all the ingredients into a bowl, season, mix well and leave for 30 minutes. Serve spooned into pasta-type plates with the juices. It's a salad that will fill you up, but you could have it with grilled fish or meat, too.

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