A panzanella is a traditional Tuscan summer salad which is made with stale bread. Now, there are many different ways to make a panzanella salad, but I’m going to show you the most authentic version without any of that new fluff like lettuce or mozzarella. At it’s base, this salad is a delightfully refreshing vegetable salad perfect for al fresco dining.
The bread you choose is important. You do not want any bread with added salt so try to pick something up you know doesn’t have salt. The traditional bread used in a panzanella is called pane toscano, known for being salt-free.
How To Make A Panzanella Salad
This salad can be made in advance because it is quite easy to prepare. All of the ingredients are necessary, although they are pretty common.
Panzanella Salad Ingredients
Bread – use a salt free bread like pane toscano if you can. Otherwise use a dry and crusty Italian or French boule. There’s no measurement here because you can use as much or as little bread as you want. I had a stale half a loaf so I used that. You can do that if you like very bready panzanella, but if you just want a few pieces that’s fine too.
50 ml Red Wine Vinegar
1 small Red Onion – thinly sliced
1 Persian Cucumber – diced
200 grams Cherry Tomatoes – sliced in half
2-3 tbsp Olive Oil – try to use a high quality olive oil
A pinch of Salt
Black Pepper to taste
Place your crusty dry bread ripped into pieces in a bowl and pour over a mix of the vinegar plus 100 ml (about half a cup) of water. Let sit for one hour. During this time you can prep the rest of the ingredients.
While you are waiting for the bread to soak well, work on the vegetables. The cucumber should be peeled and diced, the red onion peeled and sliced, and the cherry tomatoes cut in half. If you are using a large tomato cut it in quarters, then cut those quarters in half widthwise.
Place all the panzanella salad vegetables in a bowl. If you are still waiting for the bread to soak then place this bowl in the fridge to chill.
Use your bare hands to grab some of the bread. Squeeze out the vinegar/water mix and add it to the bowl. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper when all of the bread has been squeezed and added.
Mix the salad well. Don’t worry if the bread begins to fall apart – this is normal. After all, an authentic Tuscan panzanella salad is quite the rustic dish. You can move the panzanella to a prettier serving bowl of course, or do what I often do, and put it in whisky glasses for dinner party serving!
- 1 Bowl
- Bread use a salt free bread like pane toscano if you can. Otherwise use a dry and crusty Italian or French boule. I didn't add a measurement here because you can use as much or as little bread as you want.
- 50 ml Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 small Red Onion thinly sliced
- 1 Persian Cucumber diced
- 200 grams Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half
- 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil try to use a high quality olive oil as it is not being cooked.
- 1 pinch Salt
- Black Pepper to taste
- 100 ml Water
- In a bowl place the stale bread that's been ripped or cut into chunks. Pour over a mix of the red wine vinegar and the water. Let soak for 1 hour.
- While the bread is soaking prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Peel and dice the cucumber, peel and thinly slice the onion, and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place ingredients in a bowl
- Using your hands grab some bread and squeeze out the liquid. Place it into the bowl with the vegetables. Do this until you've added all the bread.
- Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Give everything a mix and plate to serve!
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