Panzanella reminds me of Spring and Summer! Tomatoes were my dad's garden pride and joy and the flavours were amazing. There are days when I eat rich, flavoursome tomatoes that bring back memories of my dads tomatoes...I love that feeling.
The bright colours of this dish are so inviting that you would never think it was a traditional ‘Cucina Povera’ meal, nothing is wasted in an Italian kitchen. It’s so delicious and only uses basic ingredients of stale bread previously soaked in water or toasting cubes of bread like Ciabatta. When mixed together with tomatoes, cucumber, torn basil leaves, finely chopped red onion and dressed with EVOO, red wine vinegar and when salt is added the umami flavour juices come out and becomes part of the dressing, which the bread gladly soaks up.
1kg mix of vine ripened tomatoes (in wedges) and various cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 cucumbers, sliced then halved
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic glove (optional)
50g basil leaves, roughly chopped
Stale bread soaked in little water or 3-4 slices Ciabatta bread, cut into 2 cm cubes
120-150ml extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
If toasting cubed bread - Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray.
Place bread on baking tray, and toast in the oven until golden, approx 5 to 10 minutes; allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl add the prepared tomatoes, cucumber red onions and bread.
Mix the dressing through the salad and place aside approx. 15-20min for the flavours to infuse, toss again before serving.
Instead of cucumber you use celery, including celery leaves
Add 1 garlic glove, crushed
Use Balsamic instead of Red Wine Vinegar
Add 2 tbsp baby capers