Mastering Panzanella: Tuscany’s Classic Bread and Tomato Salad

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Last Updated on 2023/05/30

The Perfect Summer Dish: Homemade Panzanella.

tuscany

Panzanella, sometimes also referred to as pansanella, panmolle, panmòllo, or pane ‘nzuppo, is a staple dish that hails from the central regions of Italy, stretching from Tuscany, through the Marches, Umbria, and across to Lazio and Abruzzo. Traditionally, it comprises stale bread, ripe tomatoes, red onions, and basil, all seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, and salt. In Tuscany and Umbria, the bread is usually soaked in water and then squeezed to crumble and break it into pieces to be mixed with the other ingredients. However, in the Marches, slices of stale bread are moistened but not crumbled, and the other ingredients are layered on top, much like a bruschetta.

Related articles: Traditional Italian Vegan Dishes

Like many humble and popular dishes that were once prepared with whatever ingredients were readily available, there isn’t a singular, codified recipe for Panzanella. Some variations, such as the addition of cucumber, are widely accepted, while others are left to the cook’s creativity, like the inclusion of olives, boiled eggs (often sliced for garnish), and tuna. Other ingredients that bring this dish closer to another typical summer recipe, cold rice, might include carrots, fennel, corn, celery, raw bell peppers, mozzarella, pickles, borlotti beans, and a variety of herbs for flavor, such as oregano and chives, among others.

The dish is incredibly refreshing, and some suggest it’s best to let it rest for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Preferably enjoyed in the summertime, thanks to the abundance of the vegetables used in the recipe, Panzanella makes for a satisfying, stand-alone dish.

Preparation: 15 minutes + rest time Cooking: No cooking required Total: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Serves 2:

  • 100 gr of Tuscan stale bread (or alternatively, homemade stale bread with a thick crumb)
  • 70 / 80 gr of water ( varies depending on the bread)
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 100 gr of ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 medium-sized red onion
  • fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

How to make Panzanella

  1. First, slice the stale bread (not excessively hard) into roughly 2 cm cubes.
  2. If you couldn’t find Tuscan bread, remove the harder, darker crust from the homemade bread.
  3. If the bread cubes are fairly soft, leave them out in the air for a couple of hours; if they are particularly hard, consider that they will need to be moistened more.
  4. Then gradually add water to the bread, stir, and assess how much water is absorbed. Remember, the bread should not be soggy but rather soft/semi-crunchy.
  5. Next, add the vinegar and mix well.
  6. Add the basil, stir again, and let it rest.
  7. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onions into rings, cut the tomatoes into equal pieces, season with salt and oil, and slice the cucumber.
  8. If you wish to tone down the onion flavor, soak them for 2 hours.
  9. Return to the bread, add the onion rings (which I recommend cutting in half), the tomatoes, and the halved cucumbers, more basil, a generous drizzle of oil, and mix well.
  10. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving so that all the flavors meld perfectly!
  11. Serve with a sprinkle of pepper and additional basil.

And there you have it, your Panzanella is ready to enjoy

Topics: How to make Panzanella, Traditional Italian Panzanella recipe, Making Panzanella at home, Tuscan bread and tomato salad recipe, Easy summer recipes, Best homemade Panzanella recipe

Featured image: source

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