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Toasted Sourdough, Courgette and Tomato Salad with Almond Cream and Oregano

This salad is definitely my new favourite- similar to a Panzanella and brimming with the freshest juiciest summer flavours. We still have an overflowing abundance of oregano in the garden and there were some gorgeous locally grown courgettes and tomatoes we were able to get our hands on, so we adapted a recipe we saw in Peace and Parsnips by Lee Watson and created this last week just as the temperatures were starting to creep up.

 

 

The salad feels substantial thanks to the toasted chunks of sourdough and the almond cream, but it still feels light and could be great for lunch or dinner. We like to make food that evokes an emotion or a happy memory in people. For me the taste of perfectly ripe tomatoes with good olive oil, bread and herbs will always conjure memories of childhood holidays in Catalonia and Italy where we were allowed to stay up later for meal times and it felt so special and exciting. 

 

If you wanted you could add shallots, black olives and capers to make this more like a traditional Panzanella recipe- the capers replace the anchovy flavour nicely. This could be a great starter or side dish to accompany our Aubergine Parmigiana, Beetroot Linguine or Aubergine Polpette Spaghetti! Be sure to enjoy al fresco with some nice Italian white wine!

Toasted Sourdough with Roasted Courgette, Tomatoes, Oregano and Almond Cream

Ingredients:
350g ripe seasonal tomatoes (about 4 medium to large)
2 courgettes, cut into 1 cm strips
150g green beans
3 cloves of garlic, crushed with 1 tsp of salt
Large handful of fresh oregano leaves
Large pinch of black pepper
3 slices of sourdough toast (we love using Jason's Sourdough)
Large handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
For the almond cream:
1 generous handful of blanched almonds- skins removed
50ml almond milk
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Method:
Pre-heat a fan oven to 200. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and mark an X in the base of each of the tomatoes and then blanch them in the water for 1 minute. Then place in cold water immediately. The skins should then slip off easily when they've had a chance to cool down. 
Rub the courgette slices generously with olive oil and place them on a large baking tray. 
Mix together the crushed garlic, oregano and 2 tbsp of olive oil and season well. Drizzle this mixture over the courgettes and then spread evenly. We used a pastry brush for this. 
Roast the courgettes for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile tear the sourdough into bit size cubes and place on another baking tray and drizzle with a generous glug of olive oil. Toss the bread using your hands so the bread is evenly coated. Pop in the oven for roughly 6 minutes, then toss again and put back in the oven for 5 minutes. You want the bread to be crisp on the outside but still a bit chewy inside. 
Lightly steam the green beans and then set aside (we love them nice and al dente so they still have a satisfying crunchy texture!)
For the almond cream, blend the blanched skinned almonds first, and then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
On a large platter lay out the sourdough pieces and then cut half of the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds onto the bread so you create a gorgeous bruschetta. Chop these tomatoes and scatter over the top. Place the courgettes in a lattice formation and then put the remaining halved tomatoes on top along with the green beans. Tear the basil leaves and scatter them on top, then add the final lemon juice and dollops of the almond cream.