Summer Italian salad - Panzanella... and mussels on the side...

We went to the Glenbeigh farmers market last Friday, for the very first time. It was a great day out, as the sun was shining and we were able to go to the beach as well. Both girls love that kind of family trips, as we do too. At the market we decided to treat ourselves a little and bought ready made, stuffed mussels from the local stall at Glenbeigh Shellfish. They were delicious! We usually buy 'raw' producty, so I clean and cook the mussels myself, but this time I didn't feel like doing all that work. Mussels were already prepered - with bread, butter, garlic and herb filling on top of them. Just pop them under the grill for 15 minutes and they are ready. I can't describe how good they were!!! Declicious and without any work at all! Just sit and enjoy :) I was wondering what would go well with those mussels and immediately remembered a salad that Hugh (River Cottage) made in one of his programs. Light, summery, tomatoey salad. Perfect with seafood. So the recipe below is by Hugh and the mussels are from Glenbeigh Shellfish.

How to make it...

- about 700 g large, ripe tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
- 300-400 g slightly stale sourdough, ciabatta or good country bread
- about 25 black olives
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into thick half-moons
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- about 350 g cheery tomatoes, halved (I didn't have any, my whole salad was made using 'normal', big tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon baby capers, drained (I chopped mine to make them smaller, as I don't like capers...)
- handful of basil leaves, torn
- salt and black pepper for seasoning

Put your big, tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Squeeze as much juice as you can. Discard the skin and pips. Add the olive oil, vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper to the tomato juice.
Tear the bread into bite size chunks and put into the tomato juice. Add the olives, cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, capers and basil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss everything to mix all the ingredients.
Leave the salad for about 15-20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop and bread to soak the juices. Toss everything once again just before serving.


"Panzanella is a Florentine salad of bread and tomatoes popular in summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and fresh tomatoes, sometimes also onions, cucumbers and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy. The 16th-century artist and poet Bronzino sings the praises of onions with oil and vinegar served with toast and, a page later, speaks of a salad of onions, purslane, and cucumbers." - by