A simple rustic summer dish, this tasty panzanella from Tuscany is perfect as a light lunch or for picnics.
Panzanella is not only a popular summer dish in Florence, but throughout central Italy.
Over the next couple of days (in mid-August), Lamoli, and Onelli small towns in Italy, will celebrate the Sagra della panzanella! In Monterotondo, Lazio it is held on the first Sunday of July.
What is a panzanella?
Panzanella is a simple tomato and bread salad. The simplicity of this dish is typical of Tuscan style cooking. It was usual in country-style cooking, to moisten day old dry bread and mix with seasonal vegetables.
What does it go with?
This easy summer salad, requires no cooking and is made from the simplest of ingredients:
- day old bread
- fresh tomatoes
- red onions
Select a good bread
Stale Tuscan bread is ideal for this dish as it holds its shape well and doesn’t become soggy and mushy when wet. However, outside of Italy it is almost impossible to find, unless you make your own.
Select an Italian or French crusty bread, or slices of Poilane country loaf, and moisten the bread very slightly.
You can use any good quality fresh tomatoes to make a panzanella. If you happen to come across beefsteak tomatoes, they would be ideal having a good balance of sweetness to acidity, and they hold their shape and slice well.
Making the panzanella
- First, remove the sharp flavour of the onions by soaking them in water and vinegar, so they become milder.
- Salt the tomatoes and leave to rest for a while so the liquid drains out and the tomato juices combine with the flavours of the dressing.
- Then moisten the bread and leave it to rest for a while.
- Next, mix everything together and chill for around an hour so the flavours come together.
- Remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
Panzanella can be enjoyed as a main or side dish.
More salad recipes
You may also like these easy salad recipes:
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- 2 slices of stale Tuscan bread eg. a dry country loaf
- 30 mls water 2 tablespoons
- 4 large tomatoes cut into cubes
- ½ English cucumber thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion finely sliced
- 45 mls white wine vinegar 3 tablespoons
- 240 mls water 1 cup
- 10-15 basil leaves
- 10 capers
- 100 mls olive oil 7 tablespoons, or as required
- 30 mls white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small red onion, 240 mls water, 45 mls white wine vinegarSoak the sliced onion in a bowl with water mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar, and set aside for 1 hour.
- 4 large tomatoesSalt the tomatoes and set aside for 30 minutes.
- 2 slices of stale Tuscan bread, 30 mls waterCut the bread slices into small cubes, arrange flat in a dish, and moisten with water. Set aside till softened (around 10 minutes).
- In a serving dish, add the bread and pour in the tomatoes with their liquid.
- ½ English cucumber, 10 capersDrain the onions and add to the dish, along with cucumbers and capers.
- 10-15 basil leaves, 100 mls olive oil, salt and pepper, 30 mls white wine vinegarTear the basil leaves and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper, then combine well.
- Chill in the fridge for an hour, bring to room temperature before serving.
- Use day old crusty bread for best results.
- Use good quality fresh tomatoes and a good olive oil for best results.
- Store in the fridge and consume within 2 days.
- Variations – you could also add celery, tuna, cannellini or borlotti beans, anchovies, lettuce, and hard boiled eggs.
The ingredients here on EOTF are set out in grams & milliliters and in US cups & spoons.