If there’s a chef skilled in creating Italian food suitable for warmer climates, it’s Will Cowper. It was after all part of his brief when he moved north from Sydney in 2016, to head up Otto’s second outpost. Heading into summer, Cowper shares his recipe for something particularly light and bright, appropriate for a lazy afternoon in the park or backyard.

This is a modern take on a panzanella salad, using red, yellow and black tomatoes (kumato), and adding stracciatella. It’s a simple, produce-driven dish with few ingredients. Cowper uses leftover focaccia for the croutons, and suggests putting together a red-wine vinegar dressing (red-wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar and salt) if you’re chasing a little extra flavour.

“It’s something I’d make at home on a Sunday with a steak on the barbie or a pork chop – it goes with all proteins really,” Cowper says. “It’s a universal salad.”

Will Cowper’s Panzanella Salad With Stracciatella
Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients:

500g stracciatella
1 punnet red cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 punnet yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 punnet kumato, cut in halves
1 red capsicum, roasted and peeled and cut in triangles
1 cucumber, deseeded and cut into matchsticks
1 red onion, sliced
10g capers
25g black olives (pitted and roughly chopped)
20 basil leaves
50g focaccia
50ml olive oil
20ml red-wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, for seasoning

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Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Tear the focaccia and coat in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Lay on a baking tray and bake for five minutes or until golden.

Place the tomatoes, cucumber, capers, red onion, olives and capsicum in a large bowl, adding the stracciatella in the middle. Finish with the basil and the focaccia around the outside of the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and dress the salad with red-wine vinegar and olive oil.