Panzanella Toscana

panzanella Toscana

Panzanella or bread salad is an ancient dish that smells of summer and a time when food waste was a luxury that few could afford. Many traditional peasant recipes are created precisely to use every last crumb of each product. Imagine that you have grown wheat, harvested it, ground it, then kneaded it, leavened it and finally baked it, certainly even a single slice of that bread, even if a little "crunchy", deserves to be used. But even today, whether you make bread at home or buy it in a bakery or a supermarket, it is nice to remind ourselves that behind every product there are people, work, gestures, worked land, poured water and unfortunately often also dubiously sustainable packaging. So how nice to find a recipe like panzanella that allows us to also use dry bread.

The quantities of bread are indicative, it is made with what we have at home, sometimes it will be more "bready" sometimes more "vegetable", it will always be mouth-watering. It is important to adjust the soaking times of the bread, surely a homemade bread with fine cavities will need a little more time, a more industrial bread or one simply with a larger cavities will have to take a decidedly shorter bath.

In any case, it is a very quick recipe, the kind that solves lunch or dinner in ten minutes. Also excellent as an appetizer or to serve as an aperitif or on a buffet table. It can also be prepared a few hours in advance, placed in the refrigerator and served very cold.

Ingredients for two people

.stale bread as needed

.ice (optional)

.a fresh onion, the red one from Lucca is ideal

.two tomatoes basket or peas not too big

.half cucumber

.a nice bunch of basil fresh

.salt and pepper

.extra virgin olive oil

.White wine vinegar

First we finely slice the onion, place it in a tall, narrow container, cover it with vinegar and leave it to flavor for at least a quarter of an hour. Prepare a bowl with cold water, ice and a splash of vinegar and soak the bread in it. Don't worry if the crust of the bread remains a little crunchy, it will give a nice contrast to our panzanella. When it seems that the bread has become soft, we squeeze it with our hands, making it lose as much water as possible, and crumble it into another bowl which must be large enough to also contain the rest of the ingredients.

At this point we cut the tomato, the cucumber and break the basil with our hands and add everything to the bread, even the onion which we have drained from the excess vinegar.

We season with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and if we can resist, let our panzanella rest in the fridge for at least a quarter of an hour to let all the flavors blend well.

There are infinite variations, there are those who only use red wine vinegar and also put it in the final dish, there are those who add capers, those who add tuna, there are those who prefer oregano to basil, those who also add The parsley and those who omit the cucumber. What to say? Make it yours! 

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