Bread Salad with Tomato and Basil and an early morning swim
by eat in my kitchen
The most beautiful sparkling blue and a fantastic snorkeling trip was our reward for leaving the house quite early on Sunday morning while everyone else was still asleep in the village. I’m awake earliest (together with Jenny) so it was my job to get the other ones out of their beds and into the car. I managed and off we went to Wied iz-Zurrieq for an early Sunday morning swim before we went to the fish market in Marsaxlokk.
Imagine a fjord cut deeply into barren rocks, steep cliffs tumbling into the calm, crystal blue sea in the protected bay. The water is so clear that you can see the seabed metres below and swarms of colourful fish swimming around your feet. The blue of the sea is just mesmerizing, I love to go there in the morning, when the sun is low and creates sparkling reflections which reach deep into the water. I’m obsessed with snorkeling and this is one of my favorite spots.
Most of the tourists come here to visit the famous Blue Grotto, fishermen in tiny colourful wooden boats – Luzzus in Maltese – take them around the corner of the fjord to show them the grotto’s fascinating shades of blue. I’m here to see the big schools of fish along the cliffs and to swim through the bubbles of the divers who are getting ready for their trip from this spot. If you visit this place you should either come very early in the morning to enjoy the water and sea world or in the early evening when fishermen’s families come to take an evening swim at the end of the fjord. There’s lots of chatting and laughing, kids jumping into the sea and older boys looking for octopus. This scene is as beautiful as it is timeless, the atmosphere is basically the same as it was 100 years ago. This is Malta as it’s always been and how it will hopefully stay!
At home in Jenny’s kitchen, I’m back in my cooking groove and one of the dishes that I prepared for us was my personal ultimate holiday salad, Panzanella, a bread salad with tomatoes, red onions, basil and mint. It’s perfect for a quick lunch when the temperatures are so high that you don’t even want to switch on the cooker. When I was a child, we used to go to a village close to Luca in Tuscany for our summer holidays. One of the dishes my mother prepared very often (and I loved) was this salad. In the South, bread tends to dry out much quicker because of the high temperatures, there is always some stale bread lying on the table waiting for further processing. So this recipe comes in handy quite often when we’re here in Malta.
Bread Salad with Tomato, Basil and Onions
For 2 people you need
medium sized tomatoes, thickly sliced, 3
a small red onion, chopped, 1
white bread, cut into big cubes. 1 thick slice
fresh basil leaves, a handful
olive oil 3 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper
Arrange the tomatoes in a big plate and sprinkle with the onions, bread and basil leaves. Whisk the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the salad, serve immediately.