Panzanella reminds me of the many summer days spent with my grandmother. My family owned a restaurant in Florence and were always very busy. When the school year was over, my parents would drop me and my younger siblings off at my grandparents’ home in the Tuscan countryside and I would spent weeks at a time. The times spent there were pure bliss. My grandmother was a glorious cook, and we had access to my grandfather’s huge vegetable garden and fruit orchard. That frail old lady was my inspiration for years to come. She was a good, pure, giving soul. I probably inherited her good-natured personality, for which I get in trouble constantly.
When she made Panzanella, that is all I ate. Two large plates of it. It was so delicious, and in retrospect, analyzing ‘why’ I thought it was so delicious, yet so simple because it has few ingredients, the reason is that it is sweet (tomatoes), savory, and acidic (vinegar.) Because of these three characteristics, the more you eat of it, the more you want. My grandmother, like most people who had to endure hardships didn’t waste food, savored every mouthful and cooked with love and appreciation.
Every Italian’s grandmother is the best cook in the world, and my grandmother was no exception 😉
I have perfected her Panzanella.
There so many delicious tomatoes out there. Feel free to use any one of them, you don’t have to use cherry tomatoes. I happen to like ‘datterini’ which literally translated mean ‘little dates’ they are tiny and delectable.
Here is a picture of tomatoes I found recently at our local grocery store:
8 cups cubed a-couple-of-days-old sourdough bread
8 cups of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of olive oil
2 cups basil leaves
salt and pepper
1 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Heat oven at 375°.
Meanwhile slice your onions and place in a small shallow container. Pour the vinegar over it.
Place your cubed bread in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a light brown color, then set aside to cool.
Rinse the tomatoes. Place two cups in a container to be pureed. Chop the rest.
Get all your ingredients ready and start assembling!
Place the bread in a container large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the tomatoes, the chopped basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.
I love olive oil, you can’t put too much. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper or vinegar.
You will make everyone happy with this light summer dish, which is so easy to make. The easiest recipes to make can also be the most disastrous.
Happy Eating. And drink a glass of chilled, light, red wine.