Appetizer or entree - Vegetarian and vegan - Lactose free
This is the recipe for the REAL Tuscan panzanella, a peasant dish created by farmers to use old bread that could not be given to farm animals. There are very few ingredients, bread has to be old (not croutons or anything similar), vinegar is wine vinegar and not balsamic that was not used in Tuscany. Whatever other recipes you find, whether online or in print, is NOT the original recipe.
Old bread, at least 2 days old and dry
2 ripe but firm tomatoes, sliced
1/2 big red onion, sliced
5-6 fresh basil leaves
High quality Italian wine vinegar (red or white)
High quality Italian extra virgin olive oil
Water and salt
In a big bowl arrange water and wine vinegar. Soak bread in it (you should use ciabatta, preferably, or Italian round, Pugliese or Tuscan artisan breads).
In a separate bowl, the one you'll be serving you salad in, arrange tomatoes and onions, season with oil and salt and stir to combine all ingredients.
Remove bread from water and squeeze it carefully, then crumble it with your vegetables.
Hand chop basil and drizzle with some more olive oil. Toss to combine nicely.
Refrigerate until it's time to serve.
- I haven't mentioned most of the quantities because it's up to personal taste and liking.
- The use of very high quality (like our Italian vinegars and olive oils) is mandatory in order to obtain a good result, when there are so few ingredients.
- Basil should never be washed: to clean it, just use a damp cloth or paper towel. Also, it should not be chopped: anytime you can, just break leaves with your hands.
- Vinegar in the water is used to add flavor to a bread that (in Italy) does not contain salt and doesn't have much flavor. By adding vinegar in the water, you will have a more even distribution of flavor.
- This is the summer paesant dish involving old bread, the winter one is a soup called ribollita.
- Because it's a peasant dish, no other ingredients were used (only the ones available at the farm): to make it a complete dish, you can add tuna or hard boiled eggs; people also add cucumbers.
- You can find the video here