TUSCAN BREAD SALAD WITH AVOCADO AND CHILI PEPPER or PANZANELLA CON AVOCADO E PEPERONCINO FRESCO

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Panzanella, or Pan molle as it also is called, is one of Tuscany’s typical summer dishes and you find it on most buffet tables here right now. It’s a dish for the poor, made with stale bread and the vegetables that grew in the garden, you can add almost everything to it but the standard version is made with unsalted Tuscan bread, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh sweet onion and basil. Believe me, it is much better when you use unsalted bread as salted bread tend to get a bit slimy when soaked. The same goes for Pappa al pomodoro, the incredibly good bread and tomato soup that is made here in Tuscany, I had to use bread with salt when I made it while we lived in Sweden but there’s such a difference of texture that it’s almost two different things. I’m beginning to change my opinion of Tuscan bread, first I couldn’t stand it, then I got used to it but never baked or bought it unless I needed it for Panzanella or Pappa al pomodori and now I have even begun to make my own, I leave it to rise in a cool place for at least 12-16 hours and it is so good. It’ so good that I make some almost every week right now. So I have plenty of stale bread to make Panzanella with but after having eaten quite a lot of traditional Panzanellas I now feel like making variations on the theme and to play a bit with textures and tastes. The first variation is a normal Panzanella with the addition of avocado and fresh chili which gave it a contradictory smooth stinginess.

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TUSCAN BREAD SALAD WITH AVOCADO AND CHILI PEPPER or PANZANELLA CON AVOCADO E PEPERONCINO FRESCO

Stale bread, preferably unsalted one
Tomatoes
Cucumber
Mild onion
Avocado
Fresh chili peppers
Water
Salt
Vinegar
Olive oil, extra virgin one

– Put the bread to soak in some cold water. If you want to you can add a little vinegar to the water now instead of sprinkling it on later.
– While it soaks, you peel the cucumber and then slice it thinly, cut the tomatoes in pieces and slice the onion and put them in a bowl.
– Cut the avocado to pieces as well and chop the fresh chili pepper, add to the bowl. Mix the vegetables and add salt and some olive oil.
– Take out the bread and squeeze it really well before crumbling it into humid crumbs. It’s really important that the bread isn’t soggy.
– Add the bread to the vegetables, add some more oil if needed and sprinkle a little vinegar over it all before mixing it well.
– Serve.

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L