Panzanella, literally PAN: Bread and ZANELLA: Soup Bowl, is the name of the traditional Tuscan bread salad. The main ingredients of panzanella are stale Tuscan bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, basil, salt, pepper, vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I had the pleasure to teach how to make this dish during Culinary Tour Of Italy, the cooking class I led at the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles as a part of the LA FoodBowl, the month long food fest organized by the Los Angeles Times.
Here are some tips for a delicious Panzanella:
Use Tuscan bread, the unsalted Italian bread loaf.
Don’t drench the bread in the water solution, simply wet it.
Use the best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Make the Panzanella ahead of time as the ingredients will blend together during the resting time in the fridge.
Photo Credits : Mirko Mirakle Urania
4 slices stale Tuscan bread
2 ripe tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1small red onion
white wine or apple vinegar
8 basil leaves, hand chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the onion into thin slices, soak them in a small bowl with water and a tablespoon of vinegar for at least 1 hour. Peel the cucumber with a potato peeler then cut into thin rounds. Wash, dry and cut the tomato into small pieces. With a serrated knife, remove the crust from the Tuscan bread slices, wet them with a solution of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar without soaking too much. Once softened, squeeze out any excess of liquids and chop it coarsely into pieces. Place the bread in a large bowl, then add the drained onions, tomatoes, cucumber, basil leaves and mix all the ingredients with the help of a spoon. Season with Evoo, salt and pepper and mix again. Place the Panzanella in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Return the Panzanella to room temperature before serving