This Italian salad evolved to use up stale bread but I love it so much that I go out of my way to buy ciabatta and let it go stale in order to make it. I like to serve it as an accompaniment to barbecued fish or meat. A good strong, and very stale, bread like ciabatta is important. Stale sourdough will also suffice. Whatever you use, it will need to be at least a few days old. If its not quite stale, you can dry it out a bit more by putting slices in a just warm oven. Give yourself a bit of time to make this salad, there are several stages to the preparation and it can’t be done in a hurry.
2 red capsicums
1 loaf of stale ciabatta bread
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
2 anchovy fillets, chopped into little pieces
1/2 tablespoon salted capers
1/2 cup pitted olives
small bunch of basil leaves
Put the capsicums whole on the barbecue or covered in a hot oven, and cook until blistering and soft. Turn several times if they are on the barbecue. Place in a plastic bag and allow to cool. When cool, peel the skin off, cut in half, scoop out seeds and stems, and slice into slivers. If you prefer, buy some marinated capsicum from the deli.
Cut little X-s in the bottom of each tomato and squeeze out the pulp into a bowl and put aside. Slice the tomatoes and put in a large salad bowl with the capsicums, olives and rinsed capers (if the capers are baby ones, leave them whole, but if they are the bigger ones, chop them up a bit).
Put the chilli, salt flakes and garlic clove in a mortar and pestle and pound to a paste and tip into the tomato pulp. Mix the red wine vinegar and olive oil together, and toss in the anchovy fillets, and whisk.
Cut or tear the bread into bite sized pieces, toss into the salad bowl with the other ingredients.
You can prepare ahead until this point and set everything aside until ready to serve.
Just before serving, toss through the dressing and the tomato pulp mixture, coating all the bread pieces with the dressing and pulp. Tear the basil leaves with your hands, mix through, and serve.