There are certain foods that are associated with Christmas and only Christmas. As a result I tend to go a bit overboard with them, which means eating them well into the new year. Not that I’m too concerned about that, it will after all be another year before they surface again. We’re still polishing off mince pies, shortbread and Christmas cake and there are a couple of panettone still sitting unopened in the pantry. I’m quite partial to panettone, it’s wonderfully versatile, making really good bread and butter pudding, or French toast. And its delicious in this sweet fruit panzanella.
Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan tomato and bread salad, which I love the idea of and I really enjoy the flavours but, I have a real problem with the texture of wet bread! It’s the same reason I don’t dunk bread in my soup. This aversion however defies logic and doesn’t extend to bread and butter pudding or French toast, nor to this fruity panzanella. The traditional version makes the most of ripe and flavoursome summer tomatoes, and so too does this make the most of ripe and juicy summer stone fruit and berries. It can be whipped up in next to no time and is equally suitable for breakfast (try it with a dollop of yoghurt) or dessert (be a little more decadent and serve with whipped cream).
Sweet Summer Panzanella
A fresh summery fruit salad that makes the most of the season's stone fruit and berries.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Tear the panettone into rough chunks. Put them aside. Tip half of the raspberries and half of the blueberries into a small bowl. Crush with a fork and sprinkle over one tablespoon of the brown sugar. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the remaining two tablespoons of brown sugar over a medium heat.
Toss the panettone in the butter and sugar mixture and add the chopped pecans. Spread out on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. After this time, take the panettone out and mix it up again. Return it to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool. At this stage it should be golden and it will crisp up as it cools.
Chop each piece of stone fruit into eight wedges. Place it in a bowl. Add the remaining berries, baked panettone, the crushed berries and mint leaves (tear the bigger leaves into pieces if necessary) and mix the salad gently. Put into a bowl or on a plate to serve.
If you don't have any panettone you can use a good quality fruit loaf instead.
Strawberries will work equally well in place of the raspberries and blueberries.
Make sure the stone fruit is ripe and juicy. Whilst the salad needs to be stored in the fridge, take it out for an hour or so before serving so that it can come to room temperature and the flavour of the fruit can be fully enjoyed.