Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan recipe, which perfectly blends fresh ingredients with stale bread for an easy vegetarian salad. It's a great example of a healthy, sustainable and quick recipe, best enjoyed in the summer for the seasonal flavours of the salad vegetables.
This recipe is also a wonderful way to use up stale bread that we might normally waste - here in the UK, we throw away 32% of the bread we buy.
What you need to make panzanella (bread salad):
- 250g stale sourdough or wholemeal bread, ripped into 2–3cm pieces
- 60ml good red wine vinegar
- 60ml olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 500g cherry or good-quality ripe tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bunch of fresh basil
- 1 celery heart, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 50g stoned olives
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Lots of good olive oil
How to make panzanella:
- Put the stale bread into a wide, shallow serving dish. Put the vinegar, oil and garlic into a bowl and mix together, then drizzle over the bread, mixing it in well with your hands.
- Halve the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and add to the bread.
- Set aside a few leaves of basil for the garnish and scatter the rest over the bread, along with the celery, onion and olives. Sprinkle with a little oregano and drizzle with lots of good olive oil.
- Cover the dish and set to one side in a cool place until ready to serve.
For a more substantial lunch, experiment with extra ingredients - capers, roasted peppers, cheese or beans all work well.
This recipe for the Tuscan original, called Salvatore's Panzanella, is featured in Leon: Fast Vegetarian. This easy cook book offers a range of great ideas for anyone who wants to cook great food with less – or no – meat.
If you're looking for a new way to make this great bread salad, try Jamie Oliver's panzanella recipe too.