Panzanella is a dish of the cuisine of the Italian poor, which has its origins in Tuscany and precisely in Florence. The end result might come from the union of two words, bread, and zanella (as it was called the bowl once). The farmers of that time being very poor could not throw the bread even if it is stale, then bagnandolo with water and adding the vegetables of the moment was the panzanella salad. Others, however, think that the origin of panzanella is to be attributed to the fishermen who carried the bread on the vessels and when it became stale the inumidivano with l 'water of the sea and we added what they had on hand for vegetables. On this dish, poor but exquisite have written rivers of words, even there was one who has sung the praises in a poem.
for 4 people:
about 6 slices of stale bread
1 red onion
2 or 3 plum tomatoes
a few leaves of basil
a dash of wine vinegar.
The bread of the classic panzanella toscana must be strictly tuscan bread that is salt-free. Possibly cooked in a wood-fired oven. Must have at least 3/4 days, that is, it must be stale and very hard.
You put in soaking, you should do a few minutes in a little water, after which squeeze well the bread sbriciolandolo finely. At this point, add the vegetables cut into thin slices and pieces (not very big, a little salt, olive oil to taste and a few drops of wine vinegar. Mix everything well and garnish with a few leaves chopped basil. A recommendation, chopped always the basil with your hands, do not cut it, never with a knife, otherwise it becomes black.
For those who do not love the soaked bread, I suggest that you grind the bread into many small pieces, put together the tomato cut into small pieces and leave it in the fridge for a few hours. Maybe by doing this preparation the day before. The water will be that will lose the tomatoes soften the bread, but without making it too wet. Just before eating add the other vegetables and the dressing. Keep it in the fridge for at least an hour before serving it on the table. You will have a way to mix all the flavors of its ingredients.
This is the classic recipe of panzanella in tuscany, what ì as it is prepared since ancient times. There are, however, variants rather tasty.
You also prepare so in leghorn, in this version, the soaked bread, already prepared with the basic recipe, you add fillets of anchovies in extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, diced, red onion, capers, oregano, salt and pepper.
In Sicily the use of anchovies, capers and garlic in addition to vegetables.
In Umbria, the stale bread is soaked in a solution of water and vinegar.
In Campania, we added the buffalo mozzarella.
In Rome, it is customary to wet the crust of the bread without breaking it.
With regard to the herbs you want to merge to the panzanella salad, the original recipe is the basil, while in other regions they are put in other herbs such as mint, chives, oregano or even parsley.
However, for its origin is poor, this dish lends itself to the imagination of each and to what we have in the house at that time. You can prepare it in a thousand different ways, but always with the base of the bread.
There are also variations a little more strange and extravagant, like the one which involves the use of a few cubes of watermelon, small pieces of cheese such as feta, and honey for the dressing, combined with the soaked bread and the usual vegetables of the classic panzanella salad.
Another very good version of panzanella: the ingredients are slices of stale bread, tomatoes or ripe tomatoes,extra virgin olive oil, basil leaves, white wine vinegar.
The preparation is very simple, cut the slices of stale bread, wet them with water and prepare them in a tray. Season them with a little oil, a dash of vinegar and a little salt. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce to put over the slices of bread.
In a bowl, wash and cut into small cubes, the tomatoes, toss with the olive oil and chopped basil leaves, mix everything well and put the mixture on the slices of bread that you had prepared before. It is a tasty appetizer or even a first summer dish, fresh and that does not require the use of the stove.
Also, a variation on the umbrian vegetables are placed on top of the slices of bread, moisten but left whole.
The procedure is usually and also the seasoning of the bread slices to the mixture to put on top of the bread, instead of just the tomatoes, put cucumber and red onion. all cut in slices or small pieces, season with olive oil, salt, and over again a few leaves of basil. In the same region, you can find variations that include carrots, or strips of lettuce instead of cucumbers and celery cut into small pieces. However, for this type of panzanella, the bread must remain whole and serve as a base for various toppings.