Remember when I got to call Tuscany home last Spring? (Sigh) First of all, just saying that gives me serious urges to go back…but, the point is, while I was traveling and studying (and eating), I made a point to write down all of the recipes that I loved, or at least notate a guestimate of what I thought the recipe was.
A lot of the recipes that I journaled came from my amazing host Mom, Fiorella, who definitely kept me well fed while I was studying. Dinner was always multiple courses…and instead of taking a post dinner passeggiata (walk), I pulled out my notebook and sat down with Fiorella to pick her brain about whatever amazing feast she had whipped up for us.
Flash forward many months (actually about a year) and here we are, reaping the benefits of all of the journaling that I did. No, I haven’t made all of the recipes that I collected, but I have made a bunch, and panzanella seems to be one of those recipes that we keep going back to.
It’s fresh, light, super easy, and we almost always seem to have the ingredients in the house. I want to say that it is the perfect salad for Spring and Summer, but in reality, we have been enjoying it all Fall and Winter, and we just can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s simple (which I love), but made with the freshest of ingredients, you are rewarded with a refreshing and satisfying salad.
Panzanella for 2 1/2 English Cucumber, peeled and chopped 1/4 Sweet Onion, very thinly sliced 1 Large Tomato, chopped (or a handful of cherry tomatoes, or 2 small, etc...) 5-6 Large Basil Leaves, torn 4-6 Toasts, roughly crushed by hand (I like to use either these or these.) Salt and Pepper to Taste Extra Virgin Olive Oil Red Wine Vinegar
In a large bowl, add your cucumber, tomato, onion and crushed toasts. Salt and pepper it to taste, and mix it all together.
Add a couple of swirls of olive oil and red wine vinegar (careful with the vinegar, a little goes a long way). Toss it all together again and taste it for any seasoning adjustments.
I’m not giving specific measurements for the oil and vinegar, because everyone’s palate is different. Some people like more of a vinegar taste, and others would prefer more olive oil. My advice? Start with a little, taste, and then add as needed. Once you have reached your desired seasoning level, toss in your torn basil, and you are ready for eating.
How easy is that? Aside from being one of the most delicious salads that I have ever had, it is also incredibly easy, coming together in a matter of minutes. (Have I mentioned yet that I absolutely love how easy this is?!?)
As a word of warning though, this is definitely the kind of salad that you want to enjoy right away. Since you are using toasts and not thickly cut stale bread, the oil and vinegar will soften them up pretty quick; and if you let them sit, say an hour or so, they will get mushy. (I speak from personal experience. And believe me, no one likes mushy toast.)
But, you will not be able to resist digging in right away – the sweet cucumbers and tomatoes, the acidic bite from the vinegar, the aromatic fresh basil and of course the crunchy little toasts, what’s not to love? Without a doubt, this is about to become your new favorite salad. Buon appetito e grazie Fiorella.