This authentic Tuscan recipe for panzanella salad is different from any we've made before. We think the Italians are on to something!!
Tuscan Bread Salad (“Le Pietre Vive”)
Why it's on our list
Over the Summer Courtney, traveled to Tuscany Italy and was passionate about finding a cooking class while visiting the region known for some of the best food in the world. A friend recommended Le Pietre Vive, one hour from Florence and 20 minutes from the beautiful medieval town of Siena. Le Pietre Vive is a beautiful restored farmhouse in the country side which serves not only as a cooking school but a family owned bed and breakfast and restaurant. They also plan truffle hunting excursions and make their own delicious honey and wine!
It was such an amazing experience for Courtney and her family where they made traditional Italian dishes like homemade pasta with a creamy zucchini stracciatella cheese sauce, pollo con vin santo, also known as chicken with sweet wine and this incredible panzanella salad listed below.
Courtney, Whitney and Momma Ashley have made many versions of panzanella salad over the years but Courtney claims this one is the best she's ever had! Instead of using croutons for the bread part of the salad, this recipe calls for stale bread to be soaked in water, squeezed out like a sponge and then crumbled into the salad. The damp bread makes a chunky breadcrumb consistency and paired with the crisp raw veggies creates an incredible combination of textures and flavors. We highly recommend you ditch the croutons and try this traditional Italian version. It's a game changer!
Loaf of stale country bread (unsalted Tuscan bread is ideal but you need a gutsy, country bread with firm texture and slightly stale.)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
Head of celery
Good extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar
Fresh basil to taste
Very thinly sliced raw sweet onion (spring onion or sweet red onion)
It is also possible to add very small fresh zucchini and/or cucumber or other fresh tender vegetables depending on what’s in season
Tear the bread into chunks and place in a bowl with a little cold water to soften.
Leave to soak for a couple of minutes minutes, and then squeeze out excess liquid,
crumble the bread into serving bowl. discarding and hard or tough bits of crust.
Dice tomatoes and place in bowl with bread.
Dice celery quite small and add to salad.
Rip up basil with fingers and add.
Dress with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
Keep covered in fridge until required.
* Note from chef: As with many peasant dishes born of
necessity, there seems to be endless variations on panzanella so you can add any
crunchy ingredient that you like. Cut small : cucumber, young small zucchini etc to
add a bit of “bite.”
Serve it up!
What do you love to put in your panzanella salad? Send us a note!