I often combine Fagioli all’ olio and a traditional Tuscan bread salad, Panzanella, for a completely separate creation. It makes a whole meal – vegetarian if you don’t add the optional anchovies. Bread salads are one of those summer staples in our house. Easy to assemble and makes use of lots of ripe tomatoes that are at their best at this time of year.
Panzanella with Borlotti Beans
Nothing is really measured in this “throw-together” recipe. Also, feel free to add peppers, marinated artichokes, a bunch of fresh rocket (arugula), other fresh herbs…anything that would go together.
- 1 “day old” loaf of ciabatta or other rustic white bread
- Fagioli Borlotti all’ olio (see previous post, Speckled Beans)
- 5 to 6 fresh tomatoes
- Handful of black, brine-cured olives such as Kalamata
- 2 Tablespoons caper berries
- Handful of shredded or cut basil leaves
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Balsamic vinegar
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- 6 marinated anchovy fillets, optional
Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature (approximately 210 degrees F or 100 degrees C). Rip the bread into small chunks and place in a single layer on a baking tray. Place the baking tray into the oven and let the bread dry for about 15 minutes. Take the tray out, spoon the bread, shifting the softer pieces to the top and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
Put the bread, now slightly crispy into a wide shallow bowl. I know that real Panzanella does not crisp up the bread, but relies on the dry nature of saltless Tuscan bread. Other breads need a little bit more help getting to that stage.
Warm up the beans. Spoon these and their juices onto the bread.
Cut the tomatoes into chunks, keeping all the juices. Pour the juices and tomato pieces onto the beans and bread.
Sprinkle on olives, capers and basil.
Mix up the lot. You will notice that the bread had begun to soak up some of the juices. Adjust seasoning. I added a pinch or two of my aromatic salt. Slosh on the balsamic and olive oil.
Grate the Parmesan and sprinkle on top. Lay the optional anchovy fillets decoratively on top. Serve and enjoy!