Tomato & bread salad

Tomato & bread salad

Panzanella

By
From
Florentine
Serves
4
Photographer
Lauren Bamford

This rustic summer salad is a great example of a dish that makes much out of little. It uses inexpensive ingredients and goes a long way to feed a hungry family, all without even having to turn on a stove (a blessing in the sweltering Florentine summer).

Today it is almost always made with crumbled stale bread that has been revived in water, ripe summer tomatoes, crunchy cucumber slices, red onion and torn basil, but this dish most likely began as a simple salad of onion and bread. In the Renaissance, before tomatoes made their way into Italian kitchens, the artist Bronzino penned a poem about a panzanella recipe consisting of cucumbers, basil and rocket. Actually, many older Tuscans recall having the luxury of fresh tomatoes added to their panzanella only after the Second World War.

This dish is best prepared about an hour before serving to give time for the flavours to combine, but it does not keep well for more than a day as the fresh vegetables tend to lose their crunch in the vinegar. Removing the seeds from the tomatoes and cucumbers ensures that the salad doesn’t get too moist. While stale Tuscan bread is able to retain a springy consistency when soaked with liquid, other breads may easily get soggy. Try to find a country-style loaf with a dark, hard crust. Many non-Italian recipes call for toasting the bread, but it is not quite the same as using stale Tuscan bread – in fact, far from it. If you don’t already have stale bread, you should dry out (rather than toast) the fresh bread by baking slices in a low oven until dry to the touch, but not coloured.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250-300g country-style stale bread, ideally a few days old
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
60ml red-wine vinegar
3 tomatoes
2 small cucumbers
1 large handful rocket, rinsed and dried
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
20 basil leaves, torn

Method

  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into chunks. Put the bread chunks in a sieve and pass them under running water briefly to moisten. Squeeze out any excess liquid, if any, then let the bread sit in the sieve for 10–15 minutes until springy. Crumble the bread into a large bowl.
  2. Place the red onion in a small bowl with half the vinegar and cover with cold water. Set aside while you put together the rest of the salad.
  3. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Chop into 2 cm pieces. Peel the cucumbers, slice them lengthways and spoon out the seeds with a teaspoon. Chop into pieces.
  4. Drain the onions and place in the bowl with the bread. Add the tomato, cucumber and rocket. Season with salt and pepper, and dress in the olive oil and the rest of the red wine vinegar. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves just before serving.
Tags:
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again