Panzanella for Sorting Days

We’ve been up to our elbows in life and flat admin here at ASH HQ.  Lots of late Spring cleaning- out with the old, in with the new.  Well, less of in with the new, actually.  Mostly chucking out the old in overflowing bin bags destined for the tip. 

For hot, sorting days you need something quick and easy that you can eat standing up, spooning into your mouth between outbursts of ‘ I wanted to keep that!’   Panzanella is excellent throw-together weekend food.  This Italian bread and tomato salad is summery and fresh, but still satisfying enough to fuel lugging and lifting.  And although I’m not suggesting that heritage tomatoes are easy to come by, my local (not fancy) greengrocers has recently started stocking them, so they can be found if you look out for them.  Of course, normal tomatoes would work just as well- ideally plump, ripe ones on the vine.   

Controversially, I’ve added Dijon mustard to my recipe.  It is by no means traditional, but I love mustard in my salad dressings, so I’ve added it here for a bit of peppery sharpness.  Taste your tomatoes before you make the dressing, if they are a bit under-ripe and don’t have much in way of sweetness, perhaps replace the Dijon with some balsamic for some sugar with that acid hit. 

A final note on storing tomatoes- there is nothing worse than biting into a cold, firm tomato.  For this recipe, take them out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. 

My Panzanella

You will need:
1 red onion
1 lemon
600g mixed heritage tomatoes (or vine tomatoes)
1/2 sourdough baguette (or other crusty bread)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
sea salt
black pepper
large handful basil, torn


1.  First, slice the red onion finely.  Place in a bowl and pour over the juice of half a lemon.  Mix thoroughly, cover, and set aside for about an hour.  The onion will loose its rawness and turn a beautiful, vibrant purple.   

2.  Chop up the tomatoes- it doesn’t have to be especially neat.  Place in a large bowl.  Tear the bread into chunks and add these to the bowl along with the onions, drained of the lemon juice.

3.  Mix together the dressing to your liking.  Mine was about 1 tbsp lemon juice to 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp Dijon, along with plenty of salt and pepper.  Toss these over the rest of the ingredients and leave for a few minutes before finally adding torn basil leaves. 

Spiced Pomodri D’Oro and Coconut Soup

They say necessity is the mother of invention and that never seems truer than when there’s nothing in the fridge. 

I’m rather pleased with this nutritious and delicious soup recipe given that the ingredients were sourced almost entirely from my cupboard (save a mere sprig of spring onion).  I tend to have a tin or two of coconut milk on standby to add to curries, use as a dairy substitute in baking and so on.  I also happened to have a tin of Sainsburys Taste the Difference pomodori d’ori- yellow plum tomatoes- that I’d been hanging on to in the hope that inspiration might strike and present me with a worthy purpose for them. 

Together, these two tins made a mighty fine spicy soup, warming from added chili and cumin while still refreshingly light- perfect for this drab summer we’ve been having.  I can’t recommend making a spicy tomato soup with coconut milk enough,  it was an absolute joy to eat and incredibly simple to prepare.  It’s also a bit of a different take on the classic, but let’s face it, rather dull, tomato soup. 

I think, sadly, that Sainsbury’s has now stopped doing tins of Pomodori d’oro, but you could always use fresh yellow tomatoes or just a tin of normal plum tomatoes, although you will of course end up with a more pink-tinged soup. 

Pomodori D’Oro and Coconut Soup

You will need:
2 fat spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/s tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tin pomodori d’oro tomatoes or 500g fresh yellow tomatoes, chopped. 
1 tin coconut milk
To serve: a wedge of lime, fresh coriander or mint leaves, flaked coconut. 

1. Fry the spring onions in the oil and add all of the spices, sauté until aromatic without catching in the pan.

2.  Add the tinned tomatoes and ‘mush’ a little with a wooden spoon.  Simmer for 5 minutes. 

3.  Add the coconut milk and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, until thickened slightly.  You could blend the liquid at this stage, if you prefer a smoother soup. 

4.  Serve with wedges of lime, coriander or mint and flaked coconut.