Panzanella is the quintessential dish to throw together when you don’t want to go to the store. The classic Tuscan salad calls for only a few simple ingredients: stale bread, miscellaneous produce, and basic seasonings.
Centuries ago in Toscana, when bread was baked only once a week, families would use leftover loaves by soaking the stale bread in olive oil and vinegar. The revitalized bread would be tossed with whatever fresh produce was available in the garden.
We’re giving you one of our favorite panzanella recipes, but feel free to mix it up with whatever you have on hand. Boom: a simple, healthy meal that can feed the whole family (or just you) in no time, no market run necessary. It feels good to be Tuscan!
Panzanella (Bread Salad)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly
Yield: 4 servings
8 ounces stale bread (like the Rustic Classico from our bakery!)
1 red onion, halved & thinly sliced
5 ripe tomatoes, cored
1/3 cup pitted black & green olives
12 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Soak the onion slices in water while you prepare the salad, which lessens the bite of raw onion.
Place the bread in a bowl, cover with water, and set aside until soft. This depends on how stale the bread is: probably about 15 minutes for bread that is 3 days old.
Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes, and place them in a large salad bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and pour about half over the tomatoes. Toss to combine, and set aside.
Peel, seed, and chop the cucumber, and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the olives, then tear the basil leaves into the bowl. Drain the onion, and add it to the bowl. Toss to combine.
When the bread is soft, remove it from the water with your hands, squeezing out as much water as possible. Break the bread into chunks, and place in a medium bowl. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the bread, and toss to combine. Add the bread to the vegetables, and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more olive oil if needed, then set the salad aside to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving, tossing occasionally. Serve at room temperature.
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