It's hard to catalog this traditional cucina povera preparation. For as much as the main ingredient is bread, it is not a soup, and not a salad either, even if it contains abundant veggies. It is difficult to place panzanella in the 'antipasto-primo-secondo' Italian meal articulation. Here I have classified it as an antipasto; and considering the amount of carbs, it is best paired with meats or fish and not served before a pasta dish or a Tuscan soup, many of which usually employ the use of bread or pasta in their preparations. Here's what you need for your summery panzanella:
10 slices of stale bread, or rusks, the best is pane casareccio*
6 mature heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small white onion, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
Fresh basil leaves, hand torn into shreds, the more the better
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more as the bread absorbs the condiment
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (not balsamic)
Salt and pepper
If you're not so keen on the onion front, reduce quantities or omit the white onion altogether, granted you at least employ the more delicate red variety.
Soften the bread in water for 10 minutes while you pour some Vernaccia di San Gimignano dry white in a jug and set it in the fridge to chill.
Wring away water from the bread and crumble it coarsely with your hands in a salad bowl. Add sliced onions, chopped tomato, sliced cucumber and basil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and drizzle with vinegar and abundant olive oil. Toss with your hands and add a little more oil to the mix.
Refrigerate 2-3 hrs before serving along with the jugful of wine.
*Note: The best leftover bread to use for this recipe is the typically Tuscan unsalted kind, but not all ovens carry it, so any healthy, home style whole-wheat kind will do.