Panzanella is another wonderful traditional Tuscan dish, made from items in the garden and stale or dry bread. We discovered it in the beautiful city of Montalcino. After viewing some absolutely stunning views from atop the castle, we wandered and found a nice little café for a glass of the city’s specialty wine, Brunello. On a whim we ordered this dish and it was perfect, and refreshing. We had to learn how to make it as soon as we returned home. It is served at room temperature. Below is a rough recipe. I have added a few things that may not be traditional (e.g, the mustard) but it can be modified to taste.
- A loaf of day old Italian bread It can be a little older, it just needs to be a little stiff or it will come apart in the recipe), cut up into bite sized chunks (not too small). If you don’t have any stale bread, you can take fresh, cut it into cubes, and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 300° (don’t let it toast).
- 4 large tomatoes cut into large chunks.
- 1/2 chopped red onion
- 1 large peeled seeded cucumber, cut into chunks
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks
- about a cup of fresh basil chopped or shredded.
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1/3 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- a splash or two of white wine vinegar (to taste)
- Fresh crushed pepper (to taste)
- Sea salt (to taste)
Add all of the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, onions, garlic, capers, and basil and to a bowl and mix. Add the bread, oil, vinegar, mustard, and then stir in the salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sit for about half an hour (up to 12 hours). You can refrigerate but it is not recommended as it can make the tomatoes develop a strange consistency. It is best served at room temperature.
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