Panzanella is a typical Tuscan dish from the Cucina Povera, the poor kitchen. The recipe was already known in the 16th century, but without tomatoes. The tomato had recently been discovered in Central America and hadn’t made its way yet into the Italian cuisine. The dish originated around the old bread, which was obviously not discarded, supplemented with simple ingredients from the kitchen garden and easy to bring for lunch as they worked in the fields all day.
Panzanella is a wonderfully fresh dish that gives you that Florentine summer feeling.
Ingredients for 4 servings
– 450 gr (1 pound) old white bread
– 2 large chopped tomatoes
– 1 onion sliced in thin rings
– 1 sliced cucumber
– handful of fresh basil leaves
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
Cut the crusts from the bread (the crust is not used) and cut the bread in pieces, put the bread a couple of minutes in a bowl of water to soften. Squeeze the water out of the bread and crumble it into a bowl, mix it with all other ingredients and season with a good olive oil, salt and pepper. The dish is eaten cold.
There are endless variations possible on this dish. Try it also with capers, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella or tuna.