The first time I ate Panzanella, I was living in Florence, Italy, attending L’Accademia Europea di Firenze, studying technical voice and singing. Each day, after classes, I would just wander around the city, without a map and without an agenda, but with an adventurous appetite that would lead me to restaurants and trattorias that featured local specialties, including this fresh, savory salad that is packed full of fresh herbs and robust flavor.
You can use my Traditional Rustic Bread recipe, and the next day, toast a few slices, cut it up, and throw it into my version of Panzanella, inspired by my Florentine adventure. The folks at Bella Life have generously sent me a bunch of stylish gifts to make my life much easier in the kitchen (stay tuned for more recipes using these fun, playful, easy-to-use, and very convenient gadgets) including their toaster, which worked beautifully for this recipe because you can adjust the toast level to your exact preference. The clamps hold any size slice, and since I get creative with my loaf shapes, I love this feature because any slice will fit snuggly (and it’s such a sexy toaster).
7 oz. toasted and cubed day old bread
4 oz. quartered, chopped, and peeled cucumber
7 oz. chopped vine-ripened tomatoes
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh oregano
7 basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Add all of the above ingredients into a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly and enjoy! You can serve immediately or make the night before so that the flavors have a chance to soak into the bread (preferred). A perfect side for your favorite grilled meats (steak, chicken, fish) and an excellent summer salad to bring to picnics and parties!