This light, crisp and refreshing salad is one of the reasons I moved to Florence in the first place. I remember the first time I bit into a hunking bowl of this mixed vegetable and bread medley–and then the next 3 bowls after that, too.
It’s a classic Florentine summer staple, and also one of those really useful recipes for using up stale bread (if you’re like me and always forget you’ve bought bread until it’s too late and hard as a rock).
There are many different styles of Panzanella, and you can pretty much add whatever you want once you’ve got the base of bread, tomatoes, red onion and cucumber thrown together. Here’s the recipe for Panzanella courtesy of Te La Do Io Firenze:
200 grams of Tuscan bread, stale or left out to dry overnight
2 mature aka ripe tomatoes (i like to do a mix of cherry tomatoes and some yellow bell pepper to add a bit of color)
1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 cucumber, skins peeled, diced into small pieces
Take the bread and tear it into small cubes. Soak the bread cubes in cold water for 10 minutes, squeeze any excess liquid out of them using paper towels, crush up the pieces and throw into a large mixing bowl. Add in the chopped tomatoes, sliced onion, and cucumber pieces and mix well. Drizzle a generous amount of good olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stick it in the refrigerator to cool.
When you’re ready to serve the panzanella, dress the salad with a bit of red vinegar and garnish with basil leaves. E Buon Appetito!