Panzanella – Bread Salad


When tomatoes and cucumbers are abundant in the garden, it’s time to make Panzanella!  This is an old Roman dish served to fill the belly before the second course.  The word panzanella comes from panza, meaning belly.  It was often served as an antipasto to fill the bellies of large Roman families before the meat was passed around.  It is best made with day old rustic bread.  I make my own bread for this recipe.  My family love freshly baked home-made bread so when I decide to make panzanella I make enough bread for two days and hide a loaf for the next day’s meal.


1 small onion

1 cucumber

4 to 6 firm ripe tomatoes

1 pound (450 gr) Italian bread

A handful of fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Slice the onion very thinly and soak it in cold water.  Peel the cucumber and cut lengthwise in quarters then slice into cubes.  Dice the tomatoes.  Drain the onion.  Put tomatoes, cucumber and onion in a large bowl.  Tear basil by hand and add to the bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add vinegar and olive oil and mix well.  Let rest for a few minutes.  The vinegar will draw out juice from the tomatoes.  Meanwhile cut the bread into small cubes and add it to the bowl.  Mix the bread into the salad until it is well coated then serve.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.