How to make sweet and sour bread salad (Review of Two Greedy Italians)

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.

The book

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.

4.  Cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins.
5.  Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 mins, or until all the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.


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.

I served this luke warm for a light summer supper for two but it could easily be a lunch for four or just a side dish.
Gourmet Chick received a review copy of Two Greedy Italians.  It retails for £9.99 on Amazon.  If you are undecided still, have a look at Graphic Foodie’s glowing review of the book (she tested seven dishes and said they were all great).   


  1. Aw thanks for the link Cara. I’ve cooked lots more from it actually – yet to come across a dud, it’s a true taste of (real) Italy, I use it a lot to cook for my family when they come round – all Italian and all very opinionated, they love the results too. Great to cook and learn dishes outside of my region too.

    Hopefully meeting AC in a few weeks. Will take all my will power not to try and cuddle him – ha!

  2. Mmm, I love panzanella – and love their take on it. It’s hard to beat the Italians in terms of sheer enthusiasm for food!

  3. I tried a few recipes from this book including making the pasta from scratch. It’s absolutely delicious. Gorgeous book.

  4. Graphic Foodie – Loved your review of it. Enjoy meeting AC – how exciting.

    Jeanne – I agree the enthusiasm and passion for food really shines through in this book.

    Rosana – Good tip, I will have to try the pasta recipe.

  5. I absolutely loved watching that series on TV…just two bonkers old italian men having an amazing time, cooking and squabbling their way round italy 🙂 I’ve got so many italian cookbooks, I hadn’t bothered to buy this one, but having read reviews on your blog and the Graphic Foodie, I think I may need to make the investment!

  6. I have this book! I envy you in this meeting.

  7. LOVE the title of the book.. xmas pressie idea. and what a salad! Actually sounds hearty!

  8. Wow! Really Nice & Colorful Recipe. Looks Delicious !

  9. Totally random comment, not in the least related to cooking but I was told yesterday that Genarro Contaldo’s daughter goes to my son’s new school. I expect he’s too busy to do the school run himself!!

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