Panzanella time – Tuscan Bread Salad


And the heat doesn’t subside. It is tough but let me tell you some of the positive aspects: it’s not like January (nothing can beat that), the laundry dries while the next machine washes, nice warm evenings, no needs to use socks, a valid reason to not move too much, beer taste so much better but above all – fruit and vegetables are at their best.


One of the nicest Tuscan inventions that I know of is Panzanella or Pan molle as you say it here where I live or Tuscan Bread Salad as you call it in English. A wonderfully fresh summer salad with bread soaked in water and vinegar and packed with fresh vegetables. I have eaten and seen so many different versions that I have lost count of them and that is the beauty of it, you can make it with the vegetables you have at hand and serve it the way you want, I recently shot a version for a food magazine where you serve it on a soaked slice of bread instead of adding the bread to the salad, a great idea as well. I like to serve my Panzanella in small salad leaves, preferably green ones but you can also use radicchio salad like I have done here if you like a bitter touch to your Panzanella. There are a few vegetables that in my opinion are a must: cucumber, tomatoes and sweet onion, not to forget fresh basil.


I strongly recommend using Tuscan bread, i.e. unsalted bread, because when you soak it, the texture is so much better. The same goes for Pappa al pomodoro, you can use normal, salted bread but the result is not the same, not at all the same. So try to get your hands on unsalted bread, here is my recipe version of it, and then make yourself a nice bowl of panzanella and enjoy the summer!


serves 4

1 cucumber
3-4 red and ripe tomatoes
1 sweet red onion, if you can’t find a sweet one you can take a small leek
1 red or yellow bell pepper
1 medium carrot
1 large celery stick
15 big basil leaves
4-5 slices stale Tuscan or unsalted bread (I have made it with fresh bread too, just don’t soak it as long)
4-5 tbsp vinegar
500 ml/ 2,1 cup cold water
extra-virgin olive oil

   Mix water and vinegar in a bowl, dice the bread and then put it in the bowl to soak about 10-15 minutes, it depends on how stale the bread is, sometimes you need more, sometimes less.

  Slice all the vegetables finely, it’s nicer if there no chunky pieces in my opinion. I suggest you to use a mandolin if you have one when you slice. Put them all in a bowl, add salt and olive oil and mix well.

   Squeeze out the excess liquid out of the bread and add to the vegetables. Shred the basil leaves finely and add them too before you mix the salad. Ready to serve.