At Heston Blumenthal’s now-closed Melbourne fine diner Dinner by Heston, executive chef Evan Moore oversaw a kitchen that produced exacting, complex dishes such as hay-smoked kingfish, “meat fruit” and powdered duck. But when it comes to cooking at home, Moore appreciates the simplicity of seasonal ingredients and making the most of what’s at hand – as he does here with this easy panzanella salad. The barbeque gives an added layer of char and smoke to the dish, which is balanced by the sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes.
“This salad is a favourite during the hotter summer months when tomatoes are at their best,” says Moore. “Apart from the baking of the croutons, the entire recipe can be done outside next to the barbeque. Often eaten on its own, it is also a great accompaniment for some grilled dry-aged scotch fillet.”
Evan Moore’s Barbequed Panzanella Salad
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour (including time to pre-heat barbeque)
½ loaf stale sourdough bread, ripped into large chunks
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Flaked sea salt
500g heirloom tomatoes, various colours and sizes
250g cherry tomatoes
150g fresh red chilli
50ml red wine vinegar
½ bunch basil
½ bunch parsley
Freshly cracked black pepper
Set oven to bake at 130°C.
Light barbeque with coals and let the flame die down so that only very hot embers remain.
Place the chunks of bread directly onto grill. Once charred lightly, remove bread from the grill and place in baking tray. Drizzle with 75ml of the oil and season with a generous pinch of salt flakes.
Put croutons in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until slightly crunchy on the outside but still chewy on the inside.
Meanwhile, put tomatoes and chillies directly onto the hot grill until the skins are charred and blistered, and the flesh softens slightly. Remove and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Once cooled slightly, roughly chop the tomatoes and chillies and place in a large bowl. Add the bread, remaining olive oil and vinegar, and toss. Tear the fresh basil and parsley over the salad and transfer to serving platter.
Lastly, finish with a touch more olive oil, salt flakes and a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper.