Simone Ciattini’s Panzanella, Illustrated

Panzanella: Enjoy!

Panzanella: Enjoy!

Panzanella is a refreshing Tuscan summer bread salad. Panzanella is quick to make, requires no cooking, and is the perfect thing to enjoy ona picnic.

Making Panzanella: What You'll Need

Making Panzanella: What You’ll Need

To Make Panzanella for four 8oer parhaps less; people tend to want more)  you’ll need:

  • 1 pound (500 g) several-days-old Tuscan white bread, sliced (see note)
  • At least 6 leaves basil, shredded
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 small sweet red onion (e.g. tropea or vidalia), sliced and rings separated
  • Half a cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) canned tuna fish, crumbled (quite optional)
  • Minced parsley (optional)
  • 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into eighths (quite optional)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 or more tablespoons good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Though the basic ingredient in panzanella is bread, there’s a great deal of room for improvisation.

I have one friend who insists the bread should be seasoned with just olive oil, vinegar, and basil, and another who throws in a host of ingredients including tuna fish and raw onions. So if there’s something you don’t like in the ingredient list, feel free to change it or leave it out. This said, begin:

Making Panzanella: Add Vinegar to the Water

Making Panzanella: Add Vinegar to the Water

Acidulate the water with the vinegar and soak the bread in it, for 20 minutes at least (if you plan ahead you could even leave it over night).

Making Panzanella: Slice the Bread

Making Panzanella: Slice the Bread

Making Panzanella: Soak the Bread

Making Panzanella: Soak the Bread

Making Panzanella: Squeeze Out the Moisture

Making Panzanella: Squeeze Out the Moisture

Squeeze the bread to remove moisture — it should be damp — and crumble it into a salad bowl.

Making Panzanella: Got Bread, Now Assemble!

Making Panzanella: Got Bread, Now Assemble!

Making Panzanella: Onion, Tomato, Basil, Cucumber, Olive Oil...

Making Panzanella: Onion, Tomato, Basil, Cucumber, Olive Oil…

Mix in the remaining ingredients and season to taste. Let the panzanella stand for ten minutes to give the bread time to absorb some flavor, and serve.

Making Panzanella: Mix well

Making Panzanella: Mix well

The wine? Something light, perhaps a Rosato di Bolgheri (or del Salentino).

About the Bread:
You’ll need a loaf of day-old Italian bread, of the kind that has a quite firm crust and crumb with enough body to be able to stand up to being thoroughly soaked. American-style soft breads of the sort baked in a baking tin simply will not work for panzanella, because they will collapse into a paste.

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Categories: Antipasti and Starters, First Courses from Tuscany, Illustrated Recipes And More

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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