Panzanella salad

Panzanella salad is for me synonymous with Southern Tuscany in summer. The weather has been fantastic recently. I was worried a couple of weeks ago that we wouldn’t have a real summer this year because it’s been so wet and cold. I’m jetting off Australia at the end of the month and it’s winter over there, so obviously, I’m praying for warm weather now with almost violent dedication.

But the sun god has been smiling on me and over the weekend, Giulio and I escaped to Cala Violina. This tiny beach in nearby Scarlino sits inside a massive nature park, so it’s bordered by shady pine trees, perfect for escaping the sun. It’s name is a nod to its sand, which is made up of tiny quartz crystals. When you walk on them, they rub together and sound like the strings of a violin – how picturesque! This photo does not do this beach justice. It really is the most beautiful beach in Southern Tuscany, which might sound easy since Tuscany isn’t really famous for beach, but we actually have a bunch of award-winning beaches duking it out for the top title. Southern Tuscany’s beaches are famous for their super clean water and pristine surroundings, since so many of them are part of nature parks. And since we dip our feet in the Mar Tirreno or Tyrrhenian Sea, the water is always calm and warm. So there you have it, my insider’s tip for the day!

Farro winter Italian salad with garlic and burrata

italian salad

I’ve taken my nonna’s recipe and picked it apart to create this simple winter Italian salad. Most people don’t realise you can eat a lot of winter greens raw. I remember the first time (and the second, third, fourth, fifth) time I served my mum raw green beans. She was not and is still not too impressed about them, but I love the crunch and the fresh flavour. It’s the same with the raw broccoli, fennel and purple cabbage I’ve used in this recipe. They are all delicious raw and super good for you because you’re not boiling out all the vitamins and nutrients. Since I was really keen to get my five a day into this salad, I’ve also used fresh green chilli (they’re a vegetable, right?) and chicory, a bitter local salad green that’s like rocket if all it ate was lemons.