Recipe

Strawberry, broad bean & basil panzanella

by Tom Hunt

A vegan and seasonal salad from Tom Hunt: the latest in a series themed around whole foods

In this recipe series, I’m determined to banish once and for all the notion that whole foods are heavy, unpalatable and just for health nuts. I’ve created these recipes to be flavour-packed, vibrant and light. My hope is to inspire you to cook from root to fruit, eating whole foods from the whole farm and indulging in seasonal foods that are tasty, nutritious and inherently restorative for ourselves and the planet.

True to the seasons and the creativity that comes from seasonal eating, this recipe calls for strawberries instead of the usual tomatoes. Strawberries are aromatic and have a slightly acidic, sweet and savoury note to them (similar to tomatoes), which marry well with black pepper, basil and balsamic vinegar. I usually make a wholemeal sourdough at home, so I use that. Strawberry leaves are edible and nutritious, if a little bitter. 

Ingredients

2 broad bean pods
1 tbsp wholewheat flour
4 tbsp frying oil (rapeseed, pomace, etc)
Crust of stale wholemeal bread (about 50g)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150g strawberries
2 sprigs basil, stalks finely chopped, leaves whole
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

If you manage to find broad beans in their pods, the pods make a delicious crunchy addition to the salad. Slice one bean pod thinly. Dust with flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat a small saucepan with the frying oil to a medium-high temperature. Test the temperature by throwing a piece of the bean pod into the oil—if it bubbles and rises to the surface, the oil is hot. Add the rest of the floured bean pod and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a kitchen towel.

Next prepare the bread. If it is very hard and stale, place it in a bowl of water for a few secs until it is soaked, remove and squeeze all the water out of the bread then tear into 3-4cm pieces. If the bread is only a little stale, tear into similar sized pieces. Sprinkle the bread pieces with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Pull the green stem out of the strawberries, pick the small green leaves off, and compost the stem. Cut the strawberries in half or quarters depending on their size. Mix together the strawberries, broad beans and their fried pods, bread and basil. Dress with the remaining vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

ALTERNATIVE: To make a sweet version of this dish, tear up a crust of bread and sprinkle with some gin or rum and 1 tbsp sugar. Mix 100g of cut strawberries into the bread with a sprig of mint leaves and finely chopped stalk. Serve with cream.

Recipe: Tom Hunt