Panzanella

Panzanella is essentially an Italian tomato and bread salad. I grew up eating panzanella at Savute’s in Wichita, before the person who made it passed away and took the recipe with him.

Anyway, Panzanella is, according to one of my cookbooks, a method, not a recipe, and from discussing it with a couple of friends, this seems to be the case in practice as well as theory.

We used 5 tomatos, chopped in about 1 inch pieces (for 4 people, with some left over). Add to the tomatos a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and around 1/3 of a cup of balsamic vinegar (the cheap stuff, not the 50 year old stuff, obviously), a little salt and ground black pepper, and probably about 10 leaves of basil, chopped. Mix the ingredients together and let sit refrigerated for at least several hours. Oregano would work nicely instead of the basil, indeed, I think that was probably what the Panzanella I grew up with used.

Many panzanella recipes call for using stale bread, rehydrated either by the dressing from the tomatos, or by an elaborate process of soaking the bread in water, squeezing it out, crumbling it, etc.

What we did instead, was to slice about 1″ thick slices of French/Italian bread, drop it in a bowl, cover with about 1/2 cup of the tomato salad and a few tablespoons of the dressing, grate a little parmigiano over it, and serve.

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2 comments on “Panzanella

  1. Anna says:

    I made a variant last night adding 1/4 of an onion and just placing the bread slices on top. M-m-m…with ripe tomatoes from the farmers’market and fresh basil from my garden this is indeed a treat. Thanks for reminding me of this recipe–I really need to get a copy of Silver Spoon!

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Anna,

    Regarding the onion, thanks for reminding me, as I totally left it out of the post. The first batch of this that Katie and I made for her parents, we served like this:

    Slice of bread, upon which we put a thin slice of a yellow/sweet/Spanish onion, which we then topped with the tomatoes and then finally with the dressing and parmigiano. I really like it this way. Savute’s served it without onion at all.

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