You can use day-old bread for this classic Italian dish but the bread must be of the best quality.
1 stale baguette or 300g sourdough loaf
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
120ml olive oil (preferably fruity)
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
250g cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
1. Tear the bread into 1/2 inch pieces and toss with the garlic and olive oil. Toss with the cucumber, red onion and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle over the red wine vinegar, making sure the bread is moistened, season with sea salt and black pepper and add the fresh basil. Toss with clean hands and leave to sit for 20 minutes in the fridge. Remove and leave to come to room temperature before serving.
Panzanella Salad Recipe Tips
The tomatoes should not be in large chunks in this dish – otherwise you won’t be able to fit a little of everything on the fork at one time. You should taste everything all at once in your mouth.
Bread for Panzanella: you can use ciabatta or a white country loaf too. If you wish you can toast the bread though it is not traditional.
Try a mixture of red and green tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes if you can find them. Cut large tomatoes into 8 pieces.
Add fried pancetta to the salad (or for a fishy version, add strips of glistening white anchovy) – it’s not strictly authentic but it’s a good addition.