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Culinary Capers Catering’s Deconstructed Panzanella

Summer is finally here which means it’s hard to beat the pleasures of meals bursting with the abundance of fresh local produce.  For this month’s recipe I’vetaken a rustic grilled focaccia, tomato and bocconcini salad and changed it up by deconstructing the presentation for a stylish modern plating.

Deconstructed Panzanella
serves 4

16 pcs         focaccia, approximately ½ “x 1” x 3”
1/2 lb          best quality tomatoes, 1” dice (campari, vine-ripened, summer field)
1 Tbsp        capers
6                  large basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
¼ cup         extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling plate)
3 Tbsp        red onion, very thinly sliced
1 Tbsp        white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
½                small garlic clove, finely minced
1                  large yellow or red pepper, ½” dice
5 oz             bocconcini, cut in bite-size pieces
1/4 cup       green olives, pitted and cut into slivers (we use Bella di Cerignola)
fine sea salt (to taste)
fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)

Grill focaccia and set aside.

Combine tomatoes, capers, basil, oil, onion, vinegar, garlic, pepper and bocconcini.
Season with sea salt and pepper and mix thoroughly from time to time.  Allow to marinate 30 minutes.

Carefully drain juices and save.
Toss grilled focaccia in juices, allowing focaccia to soak up some of the liquid.

To serve, place a ‘swoosh’ of smoked tomato purée on a plate (see recipe below).
Arrange 4 pieces of focaccia in a stack on top of purée.

Arrange tomato salad along side and top with fresh chervil or chives.
Garnish plate with olives, balsamic reduction (see recipe below) and a drizzle of olive oil.

Smoked tomato purée (optional)
5 Tbsp          tomato sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp   extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp           smoked paprika or pimentón
pinch of fine sea salt

Strain tomato sauce through a fine mesh sieve, pushing the solids through. Warm olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat.  Add the smoked paprika and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Whisk in the tomato sauce and salt.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Balsamic reduction (optional)
There are a couple of different kinds of balsamic that are good for drizzling: 1. delicious but expensive aged balsamic vinegars, reduced by slow evaporation from a barrel; and 2. thinner medium-quality balsamic vinegars you can reduce at home in a saucepan until it’s as thick as you want.

Here’s how to reduce your own: put about four times as much balsamic as you’ll need in a small stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat.  Simmer, watching carefully, and lowering the heat if necessary, until it’s a little thinner than you want (the vinegar will thicken as it cools).  It should take 2-4 minutes depending on the amount you are reducing.

Chef tip:
Drizzle balsamic reduction over fish, meat, fruit or vegetables, or stir into soups, stews and braises for a sweet and sour punch.

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm



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