Panzanella is THE summer recipe. This Tuscan-style tomato bread salad is so simple and yet so delicious that it will certainly become of your favorites if you give it a chance.
In a nutshell, panzanella is a poor dish, a leftovers recipe whose origin is to be found in the old, rural Italy, when peasants needed to use stale bread because wasting was no option.
As they had to make virtue out of necessity, they just soaked the bread in water and they seasoned it with the vegetables of the garden – a little bit like what happened with the bruschetta. Exactly as it sounds, the preparation of this essential, but packed with flavour dish, requires just a few passages and it is pretty easy. The outcome is a genuine and hearty meal that can be eaten as side dish but also as main course and it will be perfect for all your summer barbecues and pic-nics!
Tips for a great panzanella success:
– The best bread to use would be a Tuscan variety named pane sciocco . I obviously can’t find it here, but just know that this kind of bread has no salt added. You’d better choose a bread which is not too salty, a kind of artisan bread with a crunchy crust is ideal. I cut it in slices of around 1 cm.
– Don’t oversoak the bread. I prepare the white wine vinegar-water mixture in a small jug and then I sprinkle it all over the bread on both sides, to be sure not to exaggerate. Vinegar is really important in this recipe so if you just use water at this stage, remember to add it later.
– Don’t use fresh bread. This is absolutely not ideal for the recipe, as it will become too soggy and mushy, which is the opposite effect we want to achieve. Alternatively, if you just have fresh bread on hand, you might dry it in the oven for around 15 minutes.
– Use ripe, big, juicy tomatoes. This is essential because the juice will contribute to soak the bread once we will start assembling the panzanella. For this reason, try to avoid cherry tomatoes or unripe tomatoes.
-Give it time to mingle and mix. The ideal is to prepare it the day before for the day after, but leaving it half an hour in the fridge before eating is enough. This will allow all the flavors to get well coated and this simple salad will upgrade from the status of good and tasty to please-give-me-more-I-cant-stop.
– If you find red onion too sour, you can soak it, after slicing it, in a mixture of vinegar- water and leave it there for around 20 minutes. This will help sweeten the taste.
Panzanella – Tuscan-style tomato & bread salad
Ingredients (2 people)
5 oz (150 gr.) stale bread
2 ripe tomatoes
1 small red onion
10/15 basil leaves
White wine vinegar
Peel and slice the onion and, optionally, transfer it in a small bowl full of water and vinegar (the proportion should be half-half).
Place the bread in a bowl and sprinkle it with a mixture of water and vinegar – I used in total a 100 ml (3,5 fluid oz) solution, half water half vinegar. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, wash and slice the cucumber.
Wash and dice the tomatoes and move them into a bowl. Add 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Mix tomatoes and bread together in a bowl.
Drain the onion and add it to the bread and tomatoes, together with the cucumber. Chop the basil leaves with your fingers and sprinkle all over.
Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp white wine vinegar.
Mix well and let rest in the fridge for at least half an hour, but remember, the more, the better!
Panzanella salad - Tuscan-style tomato and bread salad
Panzanella is the typical Tuscan-style bread and tomato salad, fresh and perfect as side dish for your barbecues!
- 5 oz (150 gr.) stale bread
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- 1 small red onion
- 1/2 cucumber
- 10/15 basil leaves
- Olive oil
- White wine vinegar
- Step 1 Peel and slice the onion and, optionally, transfer it in a small bowl full of water and vinegar (the proportion should be half-half).
- Step 2 Place the bread in a bowl and sprinkle it with a mixture of water and vinegar – I used in total a 100 ml (3,5 fluid oz) solution, half water half vinegar. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.
- Step 3 In the meantime, wash and slice the cucumber.
- Step 4 Wash and dice the tomatoes and move them into a bowl.
- Step 5 Add 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Step 6 Mix tomatoes and bread together in a bowl.
- Step 7 Drain the onion and add it to the bread and tomatoes, together with the cucumber.
- Step 8 Chop the basil leaves with your fingers and sprinkle all over.
- Step 9 Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (you can adjust these quantities depending on your preferences).
- Step 10 Mix well and let rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.