A simple panzanella with purslane was one of the popular summer salads at my first restaurant. Serves: 6-–8 as a side dish.
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Panzanella, Purslane, Verdolagas
31/2-inch [1.25 cm] slices (each ½ inch / 1.25 cm thick)of good bread, preferably sourdough, left out to stale overnight
2ounces(55 g) red onion, diced in ¼- inch (6 mm) dice
1 ½pounds680 g heirloom tomatoes, or the best fresh tomatoes you can find
6ounces170 g cucumber (about half a large English cucumber)
1large clove of garlic
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
⅓cup80 ml extra- virgin olive oil, or Smude’s sunflower oil
Fresh Torn fresh basil leaves, to taste
5ounces140 g purslane tips, washed and cleaned
Champagne vinegar, or another high-quality vinegar, to taste
4 ozFresh mozzarella or burrata cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
Edible flowersoptional: pictured are white campion and touch-me-not
The night before, leave the bread slices out, uncovered, to turn stale dry out. When you’re reading to cook, Soak the diced red onion in water to cover.
Core the tomatoes, then dice into rough pieces about ½ inch square. Peel the cucumber, scrape out the seeds if mature, and dice cut in ½- inch (1.25 cm)dice.
Meanwhile, cut off the crust from the bread, then toast the slices of stale bread in an oven, toaster, or hot pan until crisp, then remove, cool until you can handle them, then and rub lightly with the garlic clove so that it dissolves into each side of the bread slices (don’t feel you need to use all the garlic).
Tear the bread into pieces the same size as the tomato and cucumber. Combine all the ingredients except the edible flowers (if using), and allow the panzanella to rest for a few minutes so the juices can soak into the bread.
Toss before serving to distribute the natural vinaigrette that forms, taste and adjust the seasoning, then spoon into a bowl and serve, garnishing with the flowers (if you’re using them).