In the Light of Day: Chopped Tusanesque Salad

Silly me. I thought the hardest thing about writing a blog while working a full-time job would be finding the time to post, but I was wrong. My biggest issue over the past couple weeks has been somewhat different its the light, or lack thereof. Barely mid-September and London has already decided to provide me with dark and gloomy weather comes dinner time. Which, as any photo-snapping food blogger out there knows, makes it next to impossible to get a good photo.

Meaning that I’m limited to weekend eats at the moment. Not that that’s a bad thing: weekends are when I make my regular jaunt to the farmers market, so on Sundays at least, my little fridge is full of the good stuff. Of course, I don’t buy all my food at the market, and in the aisles of my local supermarket, I’ve discovered something…

I like avocados. I know, I’m a little late to the party on this one; many a vegetarian friend of mine loves this mild green fruit. But I’ve always been slightly adverse to them, probably due to their, er distinctive texture. Call me crazy, but I just didn’t think something that grows on trees had any right to be that creamy! (I have a similar beef with Kiwis: anyone else thinks its just wrong for a fruit to have hair?!)

Luckily, I’ve gotten over it. These days, I’m looking to put avocado in anything and everything I can. First up- this Panzanella-like salad of chopped veg and dried bread chunks. I’ve called it “Tuscanesque” because of certain elements – the cannellini beans, bread chunks, cherry tomatoes and basil – have a certain Tuscan authenticity to them. However, I’m not sure how many Italian Nonnas put avocado and red pepper in their salads, hence the -esque.

But really, I don’t think authenticity matters one whit when food tastes (and looks, in the light of day) this good!


Chopped Tusanesque Salad

serves 4

  • 2 cups cubed bread (ideally stale)
  • 1 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered, depending on size)
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 10-15 leaves basil, chopped or torn

  1. If your bread is fresh, spread the cubes out on a baking sheet and allow them to toast lightly in the oven on a low temperature. If it’s already somewhat stale, simply tear it up and add to a large bowl.
  2.  Add the drained beans, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and red pepper to the bowl as well.
  3.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the chopped avocado with the onion, vinegar and olive oil and toss well. This is to ensure the avocado gets coated with the acid in the vinegar, and won’t turn brown. Add a pinch of salt to the dressing, to taste.
  4.  Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, pour the dressing and avocado mixture over the chopped bread and veg and toss together well. Sprinkle over the basil leaves and add a bit more olive oil, if necessary.
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