Panzanella is the name of a Tuscan summer dish. A poor dish, very simple and that doesn’t need cooking that paesants, as so did the men of our family, would bring with them in the fields, and eat for lunch.
The origin of the name ‘panzanella’ is controversial, but its most probable origin is from the use of old, stale bread (pane), which instead of being thrown would be mixed with whatever fresh vegetable available in a bowl (zanella, meaning bowl in Tuscan).
Here is Nonna Maria‘s recipe of panzanella!
2 ripe salad tomatoes
15 basil leaves
1 pinch of salt
Black pepper, freshly crushed
400 gr of stale (preferably unsalted) bread
3 table spoons of white wine vinegar
1 big red onion
Extra virgin olive oil
Peal and cut into thin slices the red onion (1), then put it in a bowl filled up with water and one table spoon of white vinegar for a couple of hours (2). In the meantime peal the cucumber (3),
wet the slices of bread with some water and vinegar (1 spoon), making sure they don’t get too wet (7). Once the bread has softened, squeeze it, crush it with your hands and put in a salad bowl (8). Drain the red onion from its water and mix it with the bread (9),
add the tomatoes (10), the cucumbers (11) and the basil leaves, washed (12).
Gently mix all the ingredients together with a spoon (13). Season with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (14). Mix and taste, if necessary add a little bit of vinegar. It is best to let it cool in the fridge for 1 hour before eating.