Panzanella (Italian Summer Salad)


Panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes which is popular in Tuscany and the rest of central Italy.

2 cups bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (day-old Italian or French bread works best)
2 cups ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
10 basil leaves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for topping
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the bread in a large salad bowl, add the tomatoes, and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, as the bread absorbs the juices from the tomatoes and softens.

Slice the basil leaves into thinly. Add the cucumbers, onions, and basil to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently to mix.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. At the last minute, add in the vinegar and mix again. Drizzle with olive oil.

Optional: for extra flavor, rub the bowl with fresh garlic before you add the other ingredients.