Panzanella is a simple Tuscan, peasant dish (cucina povera) which is popular in Italy, using the bounty of tomatoes during the summer, and stale bread which is almost a staple in any Italian kitchen.
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What is Panzanella?
Panzanella is an Italian salad consisting of summer staples in a poor household: tomatoes, stale bread and olive oil. This type of cucina povera dish is explicitly simple for the reason of its inception: poverty. If you see panzanella recipes with loads of ingredients or expensive ingredients, or those that take more than a few minutes to make, they are not authentic panzanella recipes.
There isn’t even a need for an actual recipe as it is so simple, but I know that many of you would love to have one. Maybe you even saw this on Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy series?
You may also enjoy this authentic bruschetta recipe.
Panzanella the same type of salad that I usually make in the summer with homegrown tomatoes, but instead of dipping our bread into the juice that’s left in the bowl at the end, panzanella uses stale bread cubes to soak up the tomato juice (oil and vinegar, too) in the salad. Some areas in Italy will soak the bread with water beforehand, but I don’t think that method is quite as tasty. Speaking of stale bread, do you make your own breadcrumbs?
Speaking of oil and vinegar, I can’t stress enough that the quality of the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Even the type of salt you use is extremely important. If you use poor quality ingredients, you’ll just wonder what’s so special about this salad, but then, that applies for every recipe. I love a really strong wine vinegar, at minimum 6% aciditiy.
Also, it is of utmost importance to use fresh tomatoes (homegrown or organic, if possible) along with the good quality extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar. Your panzanella won’t taste anything close to authentic if you try to use Italian dressing from the grocery store, so please don’t be tempted. If you don’t believe me, let me just tell you that there’s no such thing as Italian dressing in Italian grocery stores!
basic Italian recipe serves 2 or 3
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Place the bread into a salad bowl which will accommodate the rest of the ingredients.
Leave for a few minutes so that the juice can soak into the bread cubes, then serve.
What do you think of panzanella? I hope you love it as much as I do!
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More cucina povera recipes ~
- Minestra – healthy greens and beans
- Pasta e ceci – small pasta with garbanzo beans and a soupy sauce (can be made dry)
- Polenta – Italian corn meal based dish
- 3 or 4 medium to large tomatoes
- one or two pieces of stale Italian style bread, cubed
- a few fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
- cucumber, sliced (optional)
- sweet onion, cut into pieces (optional)
- about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, good quality
- 1 or 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
- about 3/4 teaspoon of Kosher or sea salt
- Place the bread into a serving bowl which will accommodate the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle with the salt, drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar and toss again, until well mixed.
- Leave for a few minutes so that the juice can soak into the bread cubes, then serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1152mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 17gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
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