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Pomarola, Tuscan Tomato Sauce

Ravioli With Tomato Sauce

Ravioli alla Pomarola

Come mid-summer, Italian markets sell freshly picked sun-ripened plum tomatoes by the case (10 k, or 22.5 pounds) and Italians snap them up, because there’s no dish quite so refreshing on a hot day as a bowl of pasta seasoned with lots of freshly made pomarola and a handful of grated cheese.

This classic Tuscan recipe expands well, and most households make gallons of it when the flood of tomatoes reaches its peak in August and tomato prices drop. A last thing: If you get a hankering for pomarola before tomato season begins, you can use canned plum tomatoes – you’ll probably want to sauté the herbs in this case.

  • 3 pounds (1.5 k, and if they’re watery, you will want more) plum tomatoes, cored and cut into pieces
  •  A clove of garlic
  •  A stick of celery about 6 inches long
  •  A small carrot
  •  A quarter of a medium onion
  •  A small bunch of parsley
  •  A fresh or dried hot pepper, with the seeds discarded (optional)
  •  Olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  •  A scant half teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  •  A bunch of basil

Pomarola can be made either with or without sautéing the other vegetables.

If you sauté them it will be richer, and if the tomatoes aren’t vine ripened, you may want to. However, the sautéing does curb the tomatoey taste of the sauce, so if your tomatoes are of the really good vine-ripened variety, you will want to forgo it. Also, pomarola made without sautéing is easier to digest.

If you do decide to sauté, begin by mincing the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red pepper, and parsley. Sauté them in a quarter cup of olive oil; meanwhile, cut up the tomatoes. As soon as the onion has turned translucent, add the tomatoes and a teaspoon or so of salt to the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

If you decide not to sauté, place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, pepper, cut up tomatoes, and parsley in a pot, add just a few drops of water, and simmer till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

Regardless of the procedure you chose, once the tomatoes are cooked, you should crank the pomarola through a food mill, discarding the skins and seeds. Or, if you’d rather, puree the sauce in a food processor. If you do, you may want to add a half teaspoon of sugar to counter the tartness of the tomato skins (many Italians do). In either case, check the seasoning and return the sauce to the fire until it has thickened, and a drop put on a plate no longer gives off a huge watery halo (depending on how water the sauce was to begin with, this can take up to an hour).

When the sauce is done, stir in the basil leaves and turn off the heat. Transfer the sauce at once to clean jars, sealing each from the air by pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the sauce. Screw the lids onto the jars, and once they have cooled, refrigerate them. If you decide to expand the recipe, fill a couple of jars for immediate use. Put the rest in sterilized canning jars with lids that seal, put the filled jars in a canning pot with water to cover, and boil them gently for an hour before removing them and letting them cool. Check the seals of the lids before putting the jars in your pantry.

Using your pomarola: Figure about a quarter cup of pomarola and a quarter pound of pasta per serving. After you’ve cooked and drained the pasta, stir in the pomarola and – if you want – a dab of butter, then serve it with freshly grated Parmigiano (or pecorino romano if you cannot get fresh Parmigiano). For a variation, heat the pomarola over the stove, and, assuming that you’re serving four people, stir in a half cup of fresh cream when it begins to bubble. When the sauce is heated through, use it to season your pasta, which is now Rosé.

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Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro sounds like kid’s food, and it is — for kids of all ages. In the past it was also very much a homey dish, a tasty way to use up leftover bread that no housewife would have dreamed of serving to a guest. Now it’s on the menus of Florence’s trendier restaurants.

  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 crumbled dried hot peppers (go easy, you want a little heat, but not too much)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 pound blanched, peeled, and sliced sun-ripened plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • A 1-pound (500 g) loaf of stale Tuscan bread
  • Hot water as necessary
  • Freshly chopped basil for garnishing

Sauté the onion and the garlic in the oil, and when they’re lightly browned, add the tomatoes, hot peppers, and the tomato paste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes have fallen apart.

While the tomatoes are cooking, slice or break the bread into 3-4 pieces and soak them in a bowl of cool water for a minute or two, then remove them, squeeze out the excess moisture, and crumble them into the tomatoes. Do the crumbling and adding a piece at a time; you want to add enough bread to have a dish with body, but not so much bread as to overwhelm the tomato flavor of the sauce.

Stir the mixture over a low flame for a few minutes, until it thickens. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for fifteen minutes. Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped basil and good olive oil on the side. It’s better made a day ahead and reheated.

An Antipasto Misto Toscano: What’s on the Plate

An Antipasto Misto Toscano

An Antipasto Misto Toscano

Festive Tuscan meals generally begin with a mixture of antipasti, consisting of cold cuts, crostini, and perhaps pickles or cheese, or both, and maybe a sauce or two. If you’re in a home the antipasti will be presented in platters, which people pass about, picking and choosing.

In a restaurant this is obviously less practical, and to avoid the risk of a run on something especially enticing that leaves others at the table without, the antipasto is often assembled in the kitchen and brought out in individual portions, like this, which was prepared by the Osteria L’Antica Quercia, in Barberino Val D’Elsa.

Starting at 6 O’clock, we have assorted crostini, followed by assorted cold cuts, and in the center a nice chunk of Pecorino Toscano drizzled with aceto balsamico. In the next shots I have highlighted them one at a time, to help you recognize them.

Crostino alle Olive Nere, with Black Olives

Crostino alle Olive Nere, with Black Olives

Crostino alle Olive Nere
This is quite simple, a slice of bread toasted over the coals, and spread with black olive paté. Quite tasty too, and easy to do.

A Recipe:

  • 8 slices bread, of the kind you prefer
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) black olives, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • Julienned strips of orange or lemon zest (just the colored part), optional

Begin by pitting the olives and mincing or blending the olive pulp. If you are blending, use short bursts.

Transfer the olive pulp to a bowl and work the olive oil into it, mixing well.

Toast the bread, and rub the slices lightly with the garlic,

Spread the paté over the slices, decorate each crostino with a strip or two of zest if you want, and serve.

Note: Depending upon the size of the slices of bread and the function (party food or antipasto) you may want to cut the slices into triangles before you spread the paté over them.

Crostino ai Fegatini di Pollo, with chicken livers

Crostino ai Fegatini di Pollo, with chicken livers

Crostini ai Fegatini
Fegatini are chicken livers, and I can say from personal experience that even those who are not great fans of liver greet chicken liver crostini with a smile: the process of transforming the liver into paté works a magical transformation on the liver, which retains its livery accents but becomes somehow addictive too.

Crostini di Fegatini di Pollo, Chicken Liver Crostini

Here is a recipe, cryptically presented by Aldo Santini in La Cucina Fiorentina:

“Remove the gall bladders from the livers without breaking them. And then it’s as easy as 123. Pot or skillet. Mince and sauté white onion or shallot, prosciutto fat, parsley, celery and carrot – a little of each – in olive oil. Coarsely chop and add the livers. Sprinkle with white wine. Let evaporate. When the livers are half done remove them from the pot and mince them, with a few previously steeped dried porcini. Finish cooking the paté over a low flame, moistening it with broth, white wine or Marsala. Feel free to make variations, for example capers or anchovies instead of mushrooms. The drinks are on me if you can find two Florentine homes or restaurants whose crostini taste (even remotely) alike.”

Perhaps Mr. Santini is too cryptic; you will want 3 to 4 chicken livers to begin with, about a tablespoon of onion, a couple of teaspoons each of the remaining herbs, and the amount of prosciutto fat that comes from one or two slices. The spread is done when the chicken livers are completely cooked; it takes about 10 minutes of simmering (with constant stirring) after you return the ground mixture to the stove.

A variation on the standard crostini di fegatini di pollo, which I prefer, has you mince 2 teaspoons each onion and prosciutto. Sauté the mixture in a dollop of olive oil, and when it has browned, add 3-4 minced chicken livers and 4-5 leaves of sage. Sprinkle with white wine, let evaporate, and when the livers are half done, remove them from the pan and mince them to a fine paste with the sage. Return the mixture to the fire, season it with salt and pepper, stir in a teaspoon of flour to bind it, and finish cooking it over a low flame, moistening it with broth, or more white wine, and a pat of butter as you remove it from the flames. Artusi suggests you also stir in a tablespoon of grated Parmigiano just before you remove the paté from the fire.

Once the mixture is ready, spread it on thinly sliced bread. Tuscan bakeries make special crostini loaves shaped in profile like the suits of playing cards. Elegant, but a baguette will work as well, as will squares of quick-fried polenta. Serve as an antipasto.

Crostini ai Broccoletti, with Broccoli

Crostini ai Broccoletti, with Broccoli

Crostini Verdi
There was a certain debate at our table about what these were, and we eventually decided they were based on broccoli. And quite good. I don’t have a recipe for the broccoli paté, but one could achieve a similar effect with dried fava bean paté, or one could make crostini with spinach and anchovies:

  • 8 Slices of toasted bread of the kind preferred (remove and discard the crusts if you want), cut into triangles if desired
  • 1 pound (450 g) spinach, washed well (frozen will also work – thaw it)
  • 3 anchovies, boned, rinsed and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmigiano

Wilt the spinach in a pot, using just the water that adheres to the leaves after you washed it. When it is thoroughly wilted, drain it well, mince it or blend it using short pulses, and put it in a pan with half the butter and the anchovies.

Simmer the mixture for a few minutes, stirring constantly, and while doing this toast the bread.

Stir the cream and the cheese into the spinach mixture, mix well, and turn off the heat.

Butter the toasted bread with the remaining butter, spread the spinach over it, and serve.

Prosciutto Toscano

Prosciutto Toscano

Prosciutto
People have written books about Northern Italy’s cured raw hams. Broadly speaking, prosciutto can be divided into two categories: dolce (sweet), and salato, casalingo, or Toscano (salty, home made, or Tuscan). Here we have the latter.

Prosciutto salato is more heavily salted than prosciutto dolce, and is also rubbed with a spice mixture called agliata, made with garlic and pepper. The meat is frequently darker in color, and the fat can be pinkish.

Salame Toscano

Salame Toscano

Salame
A Salame (plural salami, while cold cuts in general are called salumi — note the u) is a cured sausage generally made by grinding lean pork with pork fat to make a paste, and stuffing the paste into a casing, generally pig’s intestine. The salame is then aged in a cool dark, well ventilated place until it’s ready. Like prosciutto, Italian salami is raw, with the meat being cured by the salt in the spice mix.

The concept sounds simple and is, but within the category there are tremendous variations, both in the grind of the meat and the fat, which result in different textures, and in the spicing mixes used to season the meat.

Because of this, almost every town in Italy has a local salame, and if the town isn’t known for its pork it may be made from another kind of meat, for example asino (ass) or oca (goose – Friuli Venezia Giulia is known for its goose salami and prosciutto, both of which are made under Rabbinical supervision and thus Kosher).

Finocchiona

Finocchiona

Finocchiona
This is a variation on salami that supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it he discovered it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods.

There are two kinds of finocchiona.

One is called finocchiona, and is made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while; it’s fairly firm.

The other is called sbriciolona, a word that means crumbly, and though the mixture is the same it’s much fresher — so fresh that it simply crumbles unless sliced thick, at leas a quarter inch (1/2 cm). A good sbriciolona is an amazing treat, especially on a slice of schiacciata.

The finocchiona shown here was just firm enough to be sliceable, and quite nice.

Capocollo, or Coppa

Capocollo, or Coppa

Capocollo
Also known as coppa, this is cured pork shoulder but. Again raw, and prepared with salt, herbs, and spices.

Pecorino Toscano

Pecorino Toscano

Pecorino Toscano
Pecorino Toscano is a mildly flavored, firm sheep’s milk cheese that looks and tastes quite similar to Pecorino Sardo (and is quite different from the much saltier Pecorino Romano). This similarity is no accident; when Tuscan farmers abandoned the land in the late 50s and early 60s, preferring new houses in town with modern amenities and better paying factory jobs, Sardinian shepherds took their places, bringing their flocks with them and making cheese as they always had. And very fine cheese it is.
This slice was drizzled with Aceto Balsamico, which provides a delightful contrast to the creamy slightly pungent milkiness of moderately aged sheep’s milk cheese.

Festive festive meals generally begin with a mixture of antipasti, consisting of cold cuts, crostini, and perhaps pickles or cheese, or both, and maybe a sauce or two. If you’re in a home the antipasti will be presented in platters, which people pass about, picking and choosing.

In a restaurant this is obviously less practical, and to avoid the risk of a run on something especially enticing that leaves others at the table without, the antipasto is often assembled in the kitchen and brought out in individual portions, like this, which was prepared by the Osteria L’Antica Quercia, in Barberino Val D’Elsa.

Starting at 6 O’clock, we have assorted crostini, followed by assorted cold cuts, and in the center a nice chunk of Pecorino Toscano drizzled with aceto balsamico. In the next shots I have highlighted them one at a time, to help you recognize them.

2
Crostino alle Olive Nere
This is quite simple, a slice of bread toasted over the coals, and spread with balck olive paté. Quite tasty, and easy to do.

A Recipe:

8 slices bread, of the kind you prefer
1/2 pound (225 g) black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
Julienned strips of orange or lemon zest (just the colored part), optional

Begin by pitting the olives and mincing or blending the olive pulp. If you are blending, use short bursts.

Transfer the olive pulp to a bowl and work the olive oil into it, mixing well.

Toast the bread, and rub the slices lightly with the garlic,

Spread the paté over the slices, decorate each crostino with a strip or two of zest if you want, and serve.

Note: Depending upon the size of the slices of bread and the function (party food or antipasto) you may want to cut the slices into triangles before you spread the paté over them.

3
Crostini ai Fegatini
Fegatini are chicken livers, and I can say from personal experience that even those who are not great fans of liver greet chicken liver crostini with a smile: the process of transforming the liver into paté works a magical transformation on the liver, which retains its livery accents but becomes somehow addictive too.

Crostini di Fegatini di Pollo — Chicken Liver Crostini

Here is a recipe, cryptically presented by Aldo Santini in La Cucina Fiorentina:

“Remove the gall bladders from the livers without breaking them. And then it’s as easy as 123. Pot or skillet. Mince and sauté white onion or shallot, prosciutto fat, parsley, celery and carrot – a little of each – in olive oil. Coarsely chop and add the livers. Sprinkle with white wine. Let evaporate. When the livers are half done remove them from the pot and mince them, with a few previously steeped dried porcini. Finish cooking the paté over a low flame, moistening it with broth, white wine or Marsala. Feel free to make variations, for example capers or anchovies instead of mushrooms. The drinks are on me if you can find two Florentine homes or restaurants whose crostini taste (even remotely) alike.”

Perhaps Mr. Santini is too cryptic; you will want 3 to 4 chicken livers to begin with, about a tablespoon of onion, a couple of teaspoons each of the remaining herbs, and the amount of prosciutto fat that comes from one or two slices. The spread is done when the chicken livers are completely cooked; it takes about 10 minutes of simmering (with constant stirring) after you return the ground mixture to the stove.

A variation on the standard crostini di fegatini di pollo, which I prefer, has you mince 2 teaspoons each onion and prosciutto. Sauté the mixture in a dollop of olive oil, and when it has browned, add 3-4 minced chicken livers and 4-5 leaves of sage. Sprinkle with white wine, let evaporate, and when the livers are half done, remove them from the pan and mince them to a fine paste with the sage. Return the mixture to the fire, season it with salt and pepper, stir in a teaspoon of flour to bind it, and finish cooking it over a low flame, moistening it with broth, or more white wine, and a pat of butter as you remove it from the flames. Artusi suggests you also stir in a tablespoon of grated Parmigiano just before you remove the paté from the fire.

Once the mixture is ready, spread it on thinly sliced bread. Tuscan bakeries make special crostini loaves shaped in profile like the suits of playing cards. Elegant, but a baguette will work as well, as will squares of quick-fried polenta. Serve as an antipasto.

4
Crostini Verdi
There was a certain debate at our table about what these were, and we eventually decided they were based on broccoli. And quite good. I don’t have a recipe for the broccoli paté, but one could achieve a similar effect with dried fava bean paté, or one could make crostini with spinach and anchovies:

8 Slices of toasted bread of the kind preferred (remove and discard the crusts if you want), cut into triangles if desired
1 pound (450 g) spinach, washed well (frozen will also work – thaw it)
3 anchovies, boned, rinsed and crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmigiano

Wilt the spinach in a pot, using just the water that adheres to the leaves after you washed it. When it is thoroughly wilted, drain it well, mince it or blend it using short pulses, and put it in a pan with half the butter and the anchovies.

Simmer the mixture for a few minutes, stirring constantly, and while doing this toast the bread.

Stir the cream and the cheese into the spinach mixture, mix well, and turn off the heat.

Butter the toasted bread with the remaining butter, spread the spinach over it, and serve.

5
Prosciutto
People have written books about Northern Italy’s cured raw hams. Broadly speaking, prosciutto can be divided into two categories: dolce (sweet), and salato, casalingo, or Toscano (salty, home made, or Tuscan). Here we have the latter.

Prosciutto salato is more heavily salted than prosciutto dolce, and is also rubbed with a spice mixture called agliata, made with garlic and pepper. The meat is frequently darker in color, and the fat can be pinkish.

6
Salame
A Salame (plural salami, while cold cuts in general are called salumi — note the u) is a cured sausage generally made by grinding lean pork with pork fat to make a paste, and stuffing the paste into a casing, generally pig’s intestine. The salame is then aged in a cool dark, well ventilated place until it’s ready. Like prosciutto, Italian salami is raw, with the meat being cured by the salt in the spice mix.

The concept sounds simple and is, but within the category there are tremendous variations, both in the grind of the meat and the fat, which result in different textures, and in the spicing mixes used to season the meat.

Because of this, almost every town in Italy has a local salame, and if the town isn’t known for its pork it may be made from another kind of meat, for example asino (ass) or oca (goose – Friuli Venezia Giulia is known for its goose salami and prosciutto, both of which are made under Rabbinical supervision and thus Kosher).

7
Finocchiona:
This is a variation on salami that supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it he discovered it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods.

There are two kinds of finocchiona.

One is called finocchiona, and is made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while; it’s fairly firm.

The other is called sbriciolona, a word that means crumbly, and though the mixture is the same it’s much fresher — so fresh that it simply crumbles unless sliced thick, at leas a quarter inch (1/2 cm). A good sbriciolona is an amazing treat, especially on a slice of schiacciata.

The finocchiona shown here was just firm enough to be sliceable, and quite nice.

8
Capocollo:
Also known as coppa, this is cured pork shoulder but. Again raw, and prepared with salt, herbs, and spices.

9
Pecorino Toscano
Pecorino Toscano is a mildly flavored, firm sheep’s milk cheese that looks and tastes quite similar to Pecorino Sardo (and is quite different from the much saltier Pecorino Romano). This similarity is no accident; when Tuscan farmers abandoned the land in the late 50s and early 60s, preferring new houses in town with modern amenities and better paying factory jobs, Sardinian shepherds took their places, bringing their flocks with them and making cheese as they always had. And very fine cheese it is.
This slice was drizzled with Aceto Balsamico, which provides a delightful contrast to the creamy slightly pungent milkiness of moderately aged sheep’s milk cheese.

Lingua in Dolce Forte, Tongue in Sweet and Piquant Sauce

Lingua in Dolce Forte, Tongue in a Very Traditional Sweet & Piquant Sauce

Lingua in Dolce Forte, Tongue in a Very Traditional Sweet & Piquant Sauce

This is an extremely traditional recipe of the sort one finds in the pages of Artusi (because it is good) but rarely at table today, because tastes have changed and sweet-and-piquant, an artful combination of bitter chocolate, slightly sweetened vinegar, pine nuts, and raisins that dates to the middle ages (and whose origins some trace to the Arab dishes the knights were exposed to during the crusades), no longer finds favor.

But one still does encounter it occasionally, and Chef Carlo Cioni of the Ristorante Da Delfina, below Artimino towards Prato, prepared it beautifully for the guests at the 2013 Carmignano wine presentation, and also provided the recipe, which is, he said, from his grandmother.

  • 4 1/2 pounds (2 k) boiled beef tongue, peeled and cubed
  • A red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 30 g (1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons) pine nuts
  • 40g (1 1/3 ounces, or 3 tablespoons) raisins, plumped in warm water to cover
  • 30 g (1 ounce) bitter chocolate
  • 1/3 pound (150 g, or a little less than 2/3 cup) tomato sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Extravirgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Simmering broth (unsalted canned bouillon will work)

Sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over the bottom of a broad fairly deep skillet and sauté the onion, celery and garlic until the onion is a translucent pale purple (assuming you use a red onion; if you are using a yellow/white one aim for pale gold). Add the sugar and a goodly splash of vinegar, and cook until the vinegar evaporates.

Add the cubed tongue, the pine nuts, the chocolate, the raisins, the tomato sauce, and season to taste. Simmer over a gentle flame until the tongue is meltingly tender, at least an hour, adding broth as necessary to keep things from drying out.

In a nod to the present, Carlo’s son garnished the tongue with polenta and apples cooked in Vin Ruspo, the rosé made in Carmignano.

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.