Panzanella: Italian Bread Salad
If you’ve never tried Panzanella, you’re in for a treat. This classic Tuscan recipe is a much loved piatto povero (peasant dish). It consists of reutilizing dry stale bread to create a delicious—can’t-stop-eating-it—Italian bread salad. The majority of Italian recipes call for soaking both the bread and the red onions in a water and vinegar mixture to rehydrate and sweeten respectively; yet, I’ve found that creating a vinaigrette with the sweet tomato juices, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil it creates an even richer flavor profile and saves time. If you don’t have old bread to use up, you can simply toast fresh bread cubes in the oven until crunchy to achieve the same delicious results.
This recipe is for 6 people
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the tomatoes in a colander with a bowl underneath to collect the juices. Add the red onion and salt; toss to coat.
Put the bread cubes on a cookie sheet and toss with two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Bake until crunchy, but not browned; about 15 minutes.
Now add the tomatoes and bread cubes to a large bowl.
Add the vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil to the tomato juices and whisk until the mixture is thick. Add black pepper to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the tomatoes and bread. Stir in the cucumbers and basil. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 hours. This is a great make-ahead dish. Buon appetito!