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Tuscan Summer Bread Salad Recipe - Panzanella Recipe

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Panzanella: Enjoy!

Panzanella: Enjoy!

© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
Panzanella is a refreshing Tuscan summer bread salad. Panzanella is quick to make, requires no cooking, and is the perfect thing to enjoy on a hot summer day, especially at a picnic or cookout.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings of Panzanella

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (500 g) several-days-old Tuscan white bread, sliced (see note)
  • At least 6 leaves basil, shredded
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 small sweet red onion (e.g. tropea or vidalia), sliced and rings separated
  • Half a cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) canned tuna fish, crumbled (quite optional)
  • Minced parsley (optional)
  • 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into eighths (quite optional)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 or more tablespoons good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Though the basic ingredient in panzanella is bread, there's a great deal of room for improvisation.

I have one friend who insists the bread should be seasoned with just olive oil, vinegar, and basil, and another who throws in a host of ingredients including tuna fish and raw onions. So if there's something you don't like in the ingredient list, feel free to change it or leave it out. This said, begin:

Acidulate the water with the vinegar and soak the bread in it, for 20 minutes at least (if you plan ahead you could even leave it over night).

Squeeze the bread to remove moisture -- it should be damp -- and crumble it into a salad bowl.

Mix in the remaining ingredients and season to taste. Let the panzanella stand for ten minutes to give the bread time to absorb some flavor, and serve.

The wine? Something light, perhaps a Rosato di Bolgheri (or del Salentino).

About the Bread:
You'll need a loaf of day-old Italian bread, of the kind that has a quite firm crust and crumb with enough body to be able to stand up to being thoroughly soaked. American-style soft breads of the sort baked in a baking tin simply will not work for panzanella, because they will collapse into a paste.
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