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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

Although Panzanella (Get's it's name from Pane or Bread) is an Italian summer salad. My Neapolitan Father's Mother used to make this salad with leftover hard bread during tough times when throwing out food was unheard of. Her recipe was simple: bread soaked in plain water, splash of vinegar, tomatoes, basil leaves, olive oil, salt & pepper...that's it! Yet so good that my Father still makes it to this day just as she did. The key to a good Panzanella is to use good hearty bread or else it turns to mush and try and save this for the summer time when tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers are at their best!
My Father with his Mother, my Nonna Flora

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Vinaigrette: 1 ounce wine vinegar + 2 ounces olive oil + 1 garlic clove minced + a good healthy pinch of salt and pepper: whisk together until emulsified
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar + 1 Tablespoon water mixed together

1/2 pound loaf of a  good hearty bread: day old is best!
2 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup onions sliced very thin: preferably red onions
2 small or 1 large cucumber
10 basil leaves
1 can tuna: I like olive oil packed tuna

Cut or break up bread into chunks allow these to sit in bowl to harden up a bit (1 hour) if the bread is not day old.
Cut your tomatoes, onion, cucumbers into similar sizes to the bread.
Pour vinegar/water mixture onto the bread and toss to coat. Allow this to sit for 20 minutes then squeeze out any excess liquid then crumble the bread into the bowl.
Now add all the other ingredients along with the  vinaigrette and toss well. Allow this to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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