Panzanella is a bread and vegetable salad from Tuscany. It’s a pretty flexible recipe, as long as you have the two most important ingredients: very ripe tomatoes and day-old, good country bread.

Yield 6-8 servings
Time 15 minutes, plus time to sit
  • large bowl
  • knife
  • peeler
  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh basil, chopped
  • 1½ t capers OR a few strong olives, chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ pound day-old country bread

Optional ingredients:

  • thin slices of fennel
  • grilled eggplant
  • thinly sliced celery
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • hearts of romaine, sliced
  • radicchio, torn
Directions After you wash and dry the tomatoes, hold them over the bowl as you cut out the core and cut them into 1-inch pieces, taking care to keep all of the juice in the bowl.

Peel and trim cucumbers, cut in half, remove seeds, and slice. Trim the peppers, remove seeds, and thinly slice. Thinly slice the onion. Add these vegetables to the tomatoes along with the garlic, parsley, basil, and capers or olives (and any of the optional ingredients). Add salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar, and toss.

Cut bread into 1-inch cubes, add to the vegetables, and carefully toss so that the bread soaks up the dressing.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Let sit for an hour or two and serve.

Notes This salad is at its best after a couple of hours, but more than that will make it too soggy.

Adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure: Menus for family and friends, by Anna Thomas.

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