Ricette Italiane: Panzanella

The great thing about Italian food is it’s EASY! There’s usually less than 5 ingredients (not including salt, pepper and olive oil which are kind of a given for everything) and there’s not a lot of fancy-shmancy technique!

One thing that was new for me in Italy were seasons! It’s been wonderful to experience a true fall, winter and spring (although, in my opinion, we could skip summer). It was also great to discover that foods change with the seasons. Now at most supermarkets, just like in the US, you can find bananas, apples and oranges all throughout the year, but go to a pizzeria in the middle of winter and you ask for basil on your pizza, you’re s.o.l.! It’s not in season, it’s not fresh, therefore, it’s not available. What a concept! To go from everything always being available any day of the year to actually being denied something because it wasn’t ‘in season’ was something I immediately loved and admired. It’s something I’ve fully adopted (it’s easy to do here) and fully plan to stick to on my return to California (where, thankfully, this is easily adaptable).

our basil plant

our basil plant

I made this a few days ago which, apparently, was the last hot day of the year because it feels like autumn is in full swing today!  But basil is still abondante and the one thing I like about the summer is the yummy, light food…so without further adieu… here’s how to make panzanella…

Prep Time: start to finish, max 20 minutes

Servings: this serves 2 if it’s a piatto unico (main dish) and 4 if it’s used as a contorno (side dish)

dairy-free, vegan friendly 


*just off the bat…Italians eyeball EVERYTHING, so don’t worry about having precise measurements, just kinda throw everything in (maybe under-do it) and then adjust according to taste -obviously going light on the salt and oil until the end.

   here is what you start with-I ended up using about 5 more tomatoes of the same size 

photo (11)

one baguette, stale (actually that’s why I made this the other day- completely forgot to use it while it was fresh)

half a cumcumber, thinly sliced-you can remove the skin if you’d like

half an onion, finely diced, preferably tropea if you can get your hands on them (they are these amazing sweet, mild onions that come from Calabria-the toe of Italy- that you can eat raw no problem…I’m kind of obsessed…please tell me they have them-or at least sell the seeds in California)! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropea#Tropea_onions

3 cups worth of chopped heirloom tomatoes (whatever kind you’d like)

3-4 fresh basil leaves 

~1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (again, eyeballing is key)

3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Step one: soak the bread in water (just submerged) for about 10 minutes. Some prefer 15, but I don’t like it to get too soggy. Squeeze out all remaining water from bread and put the ‘mush’ you’ve created in a bowl. *I’ve seen my friend Megan use dried bread/croutons instead and it came out just as good.

mushy, stale bread (I swear this recipe is gets good)!

mushy, stale bread (I swear this recipe is gets good)!

Step Two: chop/slice up your cucumber, onion, tomatoes and basil leaves and add to the bread. *A huge time-saver is using a mandolin on the onion and cucumber-it’s my go-to kitchen tool!

my little helper

my little helper

Step Three: Dress the salad with the olive oil and red wine vinegar, add the salt and peper and you’re ready to eat! You can always stick it in the fridge for an hour to make sure it’s nice and cool!(see…told you it was easy!)

best on a hot day, it doesn't save well...but that's never an issue for me! ;)

best on a hot day, it doesn’t save well…but that’s never an issue for me! 😉

About This AmerItalian Life

My parents took me on my first camping trip when I was 2 months old and I haven’t stopped traveling since. My curiosity for new people, cultures, landscapes, food, ideas and opinions has brought me to where I am today: living in Northern California with my Italian husband, dog an AmerItalian son. Having spent my formative adult years living in Tuscany and then starting my life completely over yet again back in the U.S., I have been able to experience life through different lenses. I started this blog several years ago because I felt like I’d explode if I kept all my experiences of living in Italy it inside. I was barely able to scratch the surface before be began making plans to move stateside. So here I find myself with 5 more years of post-expat experiences, just bursting to get out of my head. My intentions are simple: since I love to connect with people and share stories, I hope by putting mine out there, I might be able to connect with others who have their own to tell. I don't consider myself to be a writer and I am not the best at self-editing...you have been warned!
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1 Response to Ricette Italiane: Panzanella

  1. Pingback: What I’ve learned from Italy: Eating Local | This AmerItalian Life

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