Italians waste nothing … not even stale bread! Bread salad is a perfect example of la cucina povera, peasant food. Only a few humble ingredients are needed to turn yesterday’s bread into a satisfying meal. Use summer’s juiciest, vine-ripened tomatoes, a chewy, rustic, country bread, a good red wine vinegar and your best fruity, robust extra-virgin olive oil!
Panzanella is perfect picnic food on a sweltering afternoon. The stale bread soaks up the luscious juice of the tomatoes along with the flavor of the oil and vinegar. A generous sprinkling of salt and some fresh basil is the only seasoning you’ll need. Some may be tempted to add other ingredients to this modest, simple salad, however, I suggest you do not. The traditional panzanella salad is perfection in a bowl.
- 1 Red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 12 ounces stale country bread, cut into small cubes
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Robust)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- Sea salt
- Using a glass bowl, add the onions and pour the vinegar over them. Set aside while you prepare the salad. (Allowing the onion to marinate in the vinegar mellows their harsh raw flavor).
- In a large bowl, add the bread cubes and then the tomatoes. Season with sea salt.
- Pour the onion-vinegar mixture over the tomatoes and give a good stir. Pour in the olive oil and toss well. Add the basil and season with additional salt if necessary.