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Panzanella agli ortaggi in agrodolce
This is a twist on the traditional panzanella, a classic cucina povera dish which is usually made with tomatoes and bread. In this recipe I have used a variety of vegetables and cooked them with sugar and vinegar to give them an extra kick! If you can find fresella, the Pugliese hard double-baked bread, in your local deli, I suggest you use it, otherwise good country bread slowly cooked in the oven will do. This dish can be served warm or cold and, if you increase the quantities, makes a lovely light lunch.
Blanch the carrot and celeriac strips in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the anchovies and cook, stirring, until they have almost dissolved into the oil.
Add the shallots and garlic and sweat over a medium-high heat until softened.
Add the peppers, aubergine and courgette strips and cook, stirring, over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then stir in the thyme leaves, sugar and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the blanched carrot and celeriac to the pan – taking care not to squash and break them – cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Break the fresella or toasted country bread slices into bite-size pieces and assemble in a serving dish.
Top with the vegetables, scatter over the basil leaves and drizzle with a little oil. Serve immediately.
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