Panzanella – Tuscan summer bread salad

  • Portions: 4/6 pp.
  • Level: 1/5
  • Preparation: 20 min.
  • Season: Summer

Italian food is based on tradition and using what local ingredients are available in season, simple cooking, home style cooking, these lifestyle traditions are what Panzanella represents.
During summer time, you have an abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet red onions and basil, once combined together will form this great dish. On a hot summers day, the last thing you want is a heavy meat dish or a hot pasta. Sweating over the steam of the dish just to eat it, but more so something light and fresh but filling.
Traditionally a poor mans dish the Panzanella was created with day old Tuscan bread and what ever the farmer would have in their garden, a bit like coming home late from work and seeing what is in the fridge at home and trying to create something out of nothing, sometimes it works and other times it fails but the Panzanella has stood the tests of time and is now served in many restaurants through out Italy and a popular dish to take on a Picnic or a day at the beach.

Ingredients

  • 500g of day-old Tuscan bread
  • 6 vine ripen tomatoes
  • 2 large red onions
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 3 medium sized cucumbers
  • White wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Slice and cut your bread into small chunks, it is important to use old bread, it will hold shape and absorb the flavours more. Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into small chunks, slice onion and then make an olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper dressing. Toss and spread over the bread, drizzle with more olive oil, add a few basil leaves and keep cool until ready to serve. It is that simple but packed full of wonderful flavours.
There are several variations to this, and each one is claimed to be the original by its author. Whatever the case, they all contain the same basic ingredients: bread, tomatoes, other vegetables and olive oil.

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