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Panzanella Salad with Sardines


A little taste of Tuscany! Fast, fresh and amazingly light, this salad packs a punch, deliciously. We particularly like to eat it for lunch after a long hot morning's walk, run or ride. It’s loaded with an array of vitamins and minerals to boost immunity levels and efficiently replace electrolytes lost through sweat, as well as anti-inflammatories to reduce muscle soreness. Sardines are not only cheap, they are also incredibly good for you. Fresh ones are amazing in this dish, but the tinned variety makes a very good second best. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they’re also a great source of vitamin B12, vitamin D and protein. 

Prep time – 15 mins
Cook time – 5-10 mins
Ingredients to serve 4
  • 2-3 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 peppers, 1 red, 1 yellow 1 orange, deseeded and quartered, lengthways
  • 1 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 4 large or 8 small sardines, scaled, washed and gutted (fine to use tinned sardines in olive oil instead)
  • 25g fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, sliced, for decoration
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Break up the sourdough bread into bite-size chunks.
  2. Place the tomatoes and the peppers in a bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then add the peppers, onion and chunks of bread.
  3. Rinse the capers in a colander (otherwise they can be very salty) and shake dry. Add these to the bowl too.
  4. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and then stir into the salad, so that all the salad is coated with the dressing. Taste – you may need to add more seasoning or olive oil.
  5. Stir in the basil leaves, leaving a few to scatter over for decoration later. Leave while you cook the sardines, to let the ingredients soak up the dressing.
  6. Now cook the sardines. Pat them dry with kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little sea salt.
  7. Heat up a griddle pan or grill until it is nice and hot and cook the sardines. Fresh ones will take about 3-4 minutes each side, tinned ones will just take about 30 seconds each side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. Arrange the salad on four plates and lay the sardines over the top. Scatter with some basil leaves and a little freshly ground black pepper. Serve with the lemon slices