Everyone has a foodie crush don’t they? After interviewing Antonio Carluccio earlier this year I was head over heels. Those twinkly eyes, those charming Italian expressions… I just wanted to adopt him as my surrogate Italian grandfather. I was not sure how Antonio would feel about this proposition so the next best option was to get my hands on a copy of his latest book, Two Greedy Italians, which was written with Gennaro Contaldo, the man who put the Italian into Jamie Oliver.
|The finished sweet and sour bread salad|
The book is fantastic and just makes you want to hop on the closest plane to Italy. Antonio and Gennaro have included lots of simple and traditional Italian recipes from their childhood and other recipes they have developed over the years. It is written in a very simple and unpretentious style and inclues lots of interesting background on Italy and Antonio and Gennaro’s friendship. Two Greedy Italians is divided into six parts, antipasti (starters), primi (first courses), secondi (main courses), contorni (vegetables), frutta e dolci (fruit and desserts) and merende (snacks).
I decided to test out the sweet and sour bread salad which is a twist on the traditional panzanella. It involves slow cooking vegetables with sugar and vinegar to give them an extra kick. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients as once you get all the vegetables and slice them up it is pretty speedy from there. I couldn’t get my hands on any celeraic so have omitted it from the recipe and have played with the quantities a little.
1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
125ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 anchovy fillets
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks
1 yellow pepper, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks
½ aubergine, cut into matchsticks
1 courgette, cut into matchsticks
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
100g country bread, toasted
8 basil leaves, torn
|Beautiful photography in Two Greedy Italians|
1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and stir in the anchovies. Cook until they have almost dissolved into the oil.
2. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 mins, or until softened.
|Frying the shallots and garlic with the anchovies|
3. Add the carrots, peppers, aubergine and courgette strips and continue to cook for a further 2-3 mins, then stir in the thyme leaves, sugar and vinegar, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
|Stir frying the vegetables|
6. Break the country bread slices into bite-sized pieces and arrange in a serving dish. Top with the vegetables, scatter over the basil leaves and drizzle with a little of the oil.