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 pane casareccio*
- 6 mature heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1 small white onion, sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- Fresh basil leaves, hand torn into shreds
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (not balsamic)
- Salt and pepper
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.
Also, 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.