Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)



This is a very popular country salad from the Florentine area of Italy.  It needs a firm, coarse-textured bread to be good.


2 c. coarse white bread, crusts removed

6 ripe tomatoes

1 red onion

1/2 cucumber

2 stalks of celery

6 sprigs of basil leaves, shredded

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste.


Cut the bread into small pieces (1/4 – 1/2 inch square)  Put the bread into a large salad bowl and sprinkle with cold water so it is well moistened but not soggy.  Add all the vegetables, cut into pieces or slices and the finely sliced basil.  Dress with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Stir well and leave for 30 minutes so the bread can absorb the dressing before serving.


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