The month of June was a pretty rainy, cool month here in Milan. It got a little frustrating after the tenth storm in a row at exactly 5.30pm, which is when I pick up the kids up from daycare and kindergarden. But hey, I'm not complaining because it was not hot and humid.
Until a couple of days ago that is.
You know the summer heat has hit in Milan when:
- you can park exactly where you want to on week ends
- the sidewalks are full of little holes left by the fashionable Milanese wearing their multicolored Tod's and Car Shoes
- you can find a table outdoors under the pergola at your favorite brunch place with only a few day's notice
- you have visions of biking home in the winter with gloves and a hat on while waiting for a light to turn green
- you start looking forward to going to work every morning because of the AC
- you look and smell like a mosquito repellent sales rep
- you dream of eating ice cold, soggy toast
Yes, I just wrote that.
No, it is not as bad as it sounds. Not if the toast has a mild garlic taste and the crunchiness is softened by the juices of ripe red tomatoes and the best quality olive oil.
In comes panzanella, the famous bread salad.
This is a panzanella made my way. I am aware that panzanella is traditionally made without seafood, with the addition of raw onions and vinegar, and last but definitely not least, with stale bread, preferably the Tuscan variety without salt. But hey, I didn't have any stale bread so I used delicious whole grain bread with sunflower seeds instead. Do you blame me? And since it was a week night (i.e. I would be mingling with colleagues in the office at 7am the next morning) and the kids were eating with us, I decided to leave out the red onion and rubbed the abovementioned bread with garlic bruschetta-style. It was oh so good... And to give it the missing crunch I threw in some celery. No vinegar, which I normally use, because I wanted the delicate flavor of the octopus to really shine through. If I had had some black olives in the house (or preferably the small Taggiasca variety) I would have added those too.
Here is another panzanella recipe you might like.
whole grain bread
extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the octopus this way. Slice the bread and toast it. Rub it with garlic and cut into approx. 1 inch squares. Cut the octopus, tomatoes and celery into bite size pieces. Chop up some fresh mint. Mix all the ingredients together, dress with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve cold.