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Sweet and Sour Bread Salad

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.


  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into julienne strips

  • 120g celeriac, peeled and cut into julienne strips

  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

  • 2 anchovy fillets

  • 2 shallots, finely sliced

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and cut into julienne strips

  • ½ yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into julienne strips

  • ½ aubergine, cut into julienne strips

  • 1 small courgette, cut into julienne strips

  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 100g fresella, softened with water, or toasted country bread

  • 8 basil leaves, roughly torn


  • 1.

    Blanch the carrot and celeriac strips in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

  • 2.

    Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the anchovies and cook, stirring, until they have almost dissolved into the oil.

  • 3.

    Add the shallots and garlic and sweat over a medium-high heat until softened.

  • 4.

    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.

  • 5.

    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.

  • 6.

    Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

  • 7.

    Remove from the heat and set aside.

  • 8.

    Break the fresella or toasted country bread slices into bite-size pieces and assemble in a serving dish.

  • 9.

    Top with the vegetables, scatter over the basil leaves and drizzle with a little oil. Serve immediately.


Serves 4

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