How to make the perfect panzanella (Italian bread salad)

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Panzanella is one of our favorite cold dishes from Italian cuisine. A perfect example of la cucina povera , as this inexpensive salad is made from leftover stale bread, tomato, basil, and dressing.


You need this:

  • Old bread, or else fresh focaccia or ciabatta
  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Your Italian leftovers, such as red onion, anchovies, capers, grilled peppers, olives, et cetera
  • White or red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper and salt
  • Fresh basil

Just as we had the porridge for leftover bread, the poor Italians used to make panzanella, especially in the regions of Tuscany and Umbria, to use up all the leftovers. It has now been a common dish for a long time and is eaten by everyone, and even made in the most expensive restaurants.

How do you make the perfect panzanella at home?

First of all: take care of stale bread. If you don’t have this, tear a fresh focaccia or ciabatta into pieces and bake for about fifteen minutes at 175 degrees in the oven (without oil!).

Then you can use up all your favorite Italian leftovers. Tomatoes, of course, preferably ripe, sweet and fleshy tomatoes, which are wet enough to make the bread a bit more soggy. That’s what makes the panzanella so tasty. You can also experiment a lot, for example with red onion, anchovies, capers, grilled peppers, olives, et cetera.

Then make a simple dressing of white or red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.

Toss everything together well, and preferably let it stand for an hour, so that all the flavors are well absorbed into the bread. Finally, just before serving, finish with fresh basil.

Culy Stock 0005 panzanella

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