I’ve named this recipe The North Wind and The Sun after a lovely fable (by Æsop…and I suspect others) concerning a dispute concerning which of them was strongest. They both attempted to prove their strength by dint of removing the cloak of an unfortunate passer-by.
The North Wind blew and blew, but the stronger the gusts, the more tightly the poor man pulled his cloak about him.
Then the sun shone, rays of heat causing him to swelter, and he removed his cloak immediately.
Moral of the story: persuasion is more effective than bullying. I’m all for that!
Why, though, is it an appropriate name for this dish? Well, the sunshiny Tuscan panzanella (see Barbarella-Panzanella – near death by orgasmic pleasure for that) has a dose of North Wind blow through it in the shape of the rye bread, replacing the Italian sourdough.
I’ve also added in some pecans – an idea I got from Hugh Acheson’s book, The Broad Fork. He is mixing the nuts into a guacamole in fact, but he points out that:
“When you hit that toasty goodness of the pecans, it just plays up the rich, fresh flavor of the avocados.”
The nuts and the toasted rye bread add terrific texture to this dish.
I’ve added black olives and artichokes and that has also been a great success. Also, if you have any flavoursome finishing olive oil, or walnut oil, drizzle it over the dry rye cubes just before serving.
Recipe for The North Wind and the Sun, rye bread salad
For two – a hearty lunch – you could top with a poached egg, and it goes very well with Pata Negra ham
- 200g/7 oz rye bread
- 200g/7 oz baby plum tomatoes – ideally varied colours – yellow, red, green, orange
- 1 bunch spring onions
- 1 avocado
- 1 small cucumber (or half a large one)
- 2 tbsps capers (ideally not the type in brine, the type in salt rinsed thoroughly)
- 50g/½ cup broken pecans, walnuts, or pistachios
- Basil – small bunch, a few leaves – I forgot this once, and it was still delicious
- 1 fat clove garlic peeled and crushed with 1 teasp smoked salt
- 120 ml/½ cup/8 tbsps olive oil
- 3 tbsps thick balsamic vinegar
- Generous grinds Indonesian long black pepper
- Preheat oven to 210°C.
- Use a bread knife to cut the rye bread into squares.
- Cut the tomatoes into half and put into a medium sized pretty bowl.
- On a large roasting tin spread out the squares of bread and the chopped nuts – roast in the oven for five minutes.
- Cut the cucumber into small chunks and add to the tomatoes.
- Tear over most of the basil leaves – leave a few to garnish.
- Snip over the spring onions.
- You can add the avocado now, or if you are worried about it browning, do this right at the end, just before you serve. Use an avocado/grapefruit knife (go here for a really good one, if you can never find yours) to cut the avocado out of its skin, having cut it in half.
- Chop roughly, sprinkle over a little lemon juice if you are making this ahead of time. Add to the pretty bowl.
- Add the bread and nuts. Or, if you are serving later, add about two-thirds of the bread. Add the rest of the bread and the nuts at the last minute… adds a great crunch.
- Mix the dressing ingredients – the garlic crushed with salt, the olive oil, the vinegar and the pepper in a small bowl, and mix with a fork.
- Dress the salad and leave to soak and meld for two or three hours.
- Serve garnished with the rest of the bread and the nuts, and a few choice leaves of basil.
Listen to Earth Wind and Fire – Sun Goddess; Then Slim Whitman sings North Wind.