The English Post

Panzanella salad

Written by Veronica Lavenia

Credits: © Ph. Veronica Lavenia

Panzanella salad is a “poor” dish (piatto povero) of Tuscan tradition whose name derives from “bread to soak”.

There are also those who believe that the origin of this salad is to be attributed to the sailors who brought on board hardened bread, tomatoes and bathed these ingredients with sea water. In the past centuries, the most distinguished Italian writers have written about this versatile and tasty salad. They quote stale bread as a basic ingredient while the tomato will be add only after the discovery of the New Continent.

In an age like the contemporary one, unfortunately, characterized by food waste, a salad like this would never have been created. Instead, at one time nothing was thrown away, especially bread. With stale bread, women of the past made tasty but simple recipes like this delicious salad or the equally famous pappa al pomodoro (tomato soup).

Even in this case, the high-quality ingredients are essential for the success of a dish that is not “just” a salad but a feast of Italian flavors. 

The original recipe calls for the use of the red onion, vinegar and bread soaked in water, then squeezed and crumbled. Over time, the recipe was modified with the addition of other ingredients such as tomatoes, olives, or mozzarella.

Panzanella salad: Ingredients

Serves 2

15 cherry tomatoes

2 small red onions

10 basil leaves

dried oregano to taste

Kamut, Farro or whole wheat bread to taste

extra virgin olive oil to taste

salt to taste

 Panzanella salad: Method

  1. Wash and cut the onion, tomatoes (leaving them whole) and basil.
  2. Arrange the vegetables in a bowl, adding oregano, basil and bread, cut into squares (if you prefer, you can brown it in a pan).
  3. Season with salt and a generous amount of olive oil and stir.
  4. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, so as to mix the ingredients together.

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About the author

Veronica Lavenia

PhD (former University academic). Italian based food writer, food consultant and magazine contributor. Authors of six books (five cookbooks), some of her works have appeared and appears in the most popular International food magazine, as “Gluten-free Heaven”; "Vegetarian Living"; "Veggie Magazine"; "Lifestyle FOOD"; "Australian Good Food & Travel Guide; "Chickpea";" TML" (The Mediterranean lifestyle), among others.