BREAD, TOMATO AND ONION SALAD
A simple, delicious salad that can also be served as an antipasto. One or two-day old bread coarse white country bread to which very fresh vegetable are added along with excellent olive oil and good vinegar. Usually associated with Tuscany, but quite popular in Umbria too where the unsalted country bread is similar. There are many versions of Panzanella, this is the basic version and to our mind, the tastiest. Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before serving so that it is at room temperature.
- 1 lb Italian country style bread 2 days old, in slices 2 inches thick
- 2/3 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
- 3 T good quality red wine vinegar or more to taste
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 lb fresh, firm, ripe tomatoes, cubed, about 5 cups
- 1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
- 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves, washed, drained on paper towels and shredded, a few extra for garnish
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Soak the bread in cold water to cover for about ten minutes
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing of oil, the 2 vinegars, salt and pepper, whip with a fork to combine thoroughly.
- Remove, squeezing out as much moisture as you can.
- Coarsely crumble the bread into a large serving bowl.
- Add the tomatoes, the onion and the basil.
- Add a little dressing at a time till all ingredients are well coated.
- Test for seasoning.Garnish with a few whole basil leaves.