La Panzanella is a beautiful salad that is made with ripe tomatoes, fresh aromatic herbs, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and dry bread that many people–not in Italy, mind you–just toss to the birds.
Some Italians in the north might drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar on top to give it some flare–especially those from Modena…but in my Love’s family, they eat it simple and pure–and yet when one does that–eating Panzanella in it’s purest form– it makes you feel as if life has transformed you into a different time, a time when life was basic and what really mattered was not what you were wearing or how many followers you had on instagram–but how much time you spent with family and friends.
The first time I ate Panzanella was in Sicilia (Sicily) in the summer of 2014. My love made it for me and as I watched him make it, all I could think of was how much I dislike soggy bread. I have to admit that for me the bread was a bit too wet and I only liked the crust or the parts that hadn’t been in the juice too long, yet the flavor of the salad was addicting and I was hooked. We ate it almost every time we had bread that started to dry up. When I make Panzanella, I prefer to use European bread that has a very thick crust and then I cube it and let it dry out really well. My husband doesn’t mind the bread getting really moist, he loves that the juice soaks in all the way, true European bread is like a sponge, it doesn’t turn mushy, it keeps it’s shape and can soak up a lot of liquid. Still, I like the bread to stay as crunchy as possible! I suggest you try it and play around with which texture you like best, you can control the texture of the bread by the timing of when you add the bread.
Now for the recipe!
4 Ripe medium-large sized tomatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups dry cubed bread–approximately 4 slices of bread. (Make sure you use good European bread, ciabatta, baguette, etc.)
*3 Tablespoons fresh basil chopped or minced (your choice)
1/2 garlic clove minced
½ tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp fresh
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil–as garnish to drizzle on top of salad for presentation
*balsamic vinegar as added garnish if desired
Extra sea salt to taste
- Dice tomatoes, mince ½ garlic clove—add more if you love garlic.
- In medium sized bowl gently toss Tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, oregano, olive oil and salt. *If you don’t have basil do not use dried basil. Increase dried oregano to taste.
- Let set for 10-15 minutes.
- Have small appetizer or salad bowls ready to serve.
- Mix in cubed dry bread.
- Lightly drizzle EVOO on top, lightly salt, add other garnish if desired.
- Serve immediately.
I hope that you enjoy making this recipe. Right now is the perfect season! Get out there and pick your tomatoes! If you don’t have any plants, find a good farmer’s market!
I leave you with a few pics from my trip that we took that year. My son was only 4 months old when we went to visit family. Our older two came along too and let’s just say, Love and I, didn’t have a vacation, but we did learned a lot about ourselves and we had a lot of good stories to tell afterward!