Jun 24, 2009

Panzanella recipe

Panzanella is a fantastic (and easy) summer dish made with bread, it's a Tuscan traditional summer dish and is a great example of how Italians make good use of leftovers. I have posted several recipes that employ leftover foods: Frico, Meatballs, Riso al salto and Torta di Pane.


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.

Image © cookaround.com

Buon appetito!


  1. We call this 'mort'e fame' in Positano dialect. Make it all the time in summer using the 'pane biscottato'. Yum!

  2. Yummy looking. My 'oven' doesn't carry that bread - I wish you had a restaurant right down the street. Then, I would destroy my kitchen and eat at your place everyday.

  3. Wonderful Lola but I am still digesting the beans. Will tuck in tomorrow. See my friend Sarah has just signed up and you have almost 100 followers - all very wise people ~ have a good evening, Eddie

  4. Oh yummie! I love love onions, especially the purple ones.

  5. Now, people like me who had this almost daily as a child will tell your guests that it is the most delicious food one can eat. And yes, we used left-over bread heels, the end of a loaf that had become too dry and too hard to eat. Nothing was ever thrown away.

    A true summer feast.

    Grazie, Lola, bella cara, e grazie anche per i sentimenti che hai scritti al mio blog.

  6. That looks good! And I love the title.

  7. Will you send me some of those fabulous Italian tomatoes? They make this dish oh so much better. I've also made this with cornbread (oh, the horror!) and fontina cheese, with lemon instead of vinegar. That's pretty darn tasty, too.

    I can't wait till the local vines start offering ripe tomatoes. I love just leaning over the kitchen sink, sprinkling one with a little salt and biting in. Yowza.

    How do you say taste sensation in Italian?

  8. This is my D's very favorite salad. He could eat it every day, I think.

    My post was about using leftovers as well - it's that glorious summer time of year, when a good, ripe tomato can serve as the basis for a meal.

    Love it!

  9. Like all your recipes, this one is simple and delicious. This kind of comforting time-tested peasant food is good for the body, soul and wallet. I'll always prefer it.

    Your close-up photo looked so good, I'm drooling again. Thanks!

  10. Only you dear Lola could make wet bread look good.


  11. If there is a god, one day you will cook for me. I promise to do the dishes much much later after I spend at least two hours rubbing full belly. Yum!

  12. ooooooooooooh YUM! thanks for swinging by me in tanzania. xx j

  13. I say it again...la-la-la-la-la-LOLA! You are an inspiration. Oh, how utterly delicious that looks - what a magician you are, girl, what a conjuror of culinary delights. And there is our supper al fresco tonight (glorious day here) - thank you, bella mia!

  14. It looks gorgeous! I think i would probably skip those onions, and one day I am GOING to try some of these fab recipes of yours!! x

  15. This looks wonderful. Perfect use for the left over bread.

  16. hahahaha! Renee is funny, wet bread, yummy yum. Lola, does this travel well? maybe you can put the leftovers in your suitcase?? ;)no? well, it doesn't look too difficult so I think I will try it!

  17. The votes are in and we are all going to Lola's for dinner.
    Actually I am away and will get to the post office by Monday Lola.

  18. Looks fresh and wonderful, I love the marriage of tomatoes and onions, the flavorful juices that the bread soaks up, Yumm!!

  19. To me, this concoction represents all that's delicious and fantastic about summer. I love the Italian approach to using fresh seasonal ingredients in such simple and delicious ways.

    I'm all over it! I also like how you include putting the wine to refrigerate in your recipe.

    Lovely, dear!

  20. Yum Lola... I gain wait every time I visit :-)

    I love to eat good Italian food... unfortunately for me the great Italian cooks in my family are all together in heaven and mostly I'm too lazy to cook... but fortunately for me my partner loves to cook.

    best wishes always

  21. me again...
    Lola I just read your fathers day post ~~~ Wow!!
    I feel sad and happy all in one.
    That was a lovely read.
    How lucky you are to have each other.

    best wishes
    Ribbon x

  22. That looks so good! It's two minutes before my lunch as I type this, and I wish I had that dish waiting for me.

  23. Hi Lola !! This recipe is so mouth watering and i cant resist at all ! Will surely try this on sunday !Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

  24. This looks so good Lola.

    I'm starving.

    Yes, the tree, a poem in itself.


  25. I am salivating! Now I have to eat breakfast - cereal, plain cereal. Your life looks so much tastier than mine! :)

    Have a great day Lola!

  26. What a great idea! I will have to try this one ,come summer. XX♥

  27. There is a less common variant of panzanella (somewhat more common twenty years ago than it is now)that features radishes, spring onions, cucumber and/or celery, hard-boiled egg and mentuccia optional). In regard to the primo/secondo/insalata question, here in Florence it is quite firmly established as a summertime primo (along with insalata di riso and the increasingly popular insalata di farro) though it is becoming fairly common among happy hour buffet offerings.

  28. Hi Lola,
    First of all thanks for visiting my blog post for PANZANELLA and your kind comments. You have a wonderful blog and now after reading a couple of books about Tuscany, I want to learn all I can so I will be spending more time on your blog.

  29. Ich genie├če es sehr Deinen Blog zu lesen... und das Rezept ist toll und das ganz ohne Gluten aber geschmacklich wie in einem Hotel im Meraner Land oder in Rom :)