“PANZANELLA” DI ZIA FLORA (MY HUSBAND’S AUNT)
“Panzanella” is a Tuscan rustic poor bread salad, perfect in the summertime, and it has its origin in the old farmer’s traditions. It’s a very simple and easy–to–make dish that doesn’t require any cooking and because of that, in the past, was eaten on the fields where no heating was possible. Panzanella, a glass of wine…and back to work!
INGREDIENTS (FOR 4 PEOPLE)
500 g (1 lb) of one–day–old bread
15 leaves of fresh basil
1 fresh cucumber
1 red onion
2 ripe tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Remove the crust of the bread (and feed it to the birds). Soak the bread in room–temperature water for about 30 seconds until it becomes soft, but not completely wet. Remove it from the water and squeeze it firmly between your fingers, removing as much of the water from the bread as possible. Make rough bread crumbs out of it by rubbing the bread between your hands, letting the crumbs fall into a large mixing bowl.
Add to the bread crumbs the peeled and thinly sliced onion, finely diced tomatoes, peeled and cubed cucumber, thinly sliced lettuce, and shredded basil leaves (tearing with your fingers, not by cutting it with a knife).
Add salt, pepper, and a good amount of a good quality, extra virgin olive oil and stir well. Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Before serving add more olive oil.
The authentic original recipe is very simple. You can add chopped boiled eggs, yellow and red bell peppers, anchovies, tuna, celery, and some people like to add red wine vinegar. It won’t be typically Tuscan any longer but still delicious!!