As you cut the tomatoes, remove some of the seeds and liquid. Your panzanella will be juicy enough. Leave the crusts on the bread chunks; they will stay chewier and give the panzanella more substance.
Note: Remember that the bread should be the star of this dish, so keep its quantity higher than the other ingredients. Using unsalted Tuscan bread requires a little extra salt be put into the salad – make sure you taste it after adding the olive oil and vinegar to determine how much salt to add.
• 4 cups of fresh heirloom tomatoes cut in pieces.
• Day-old bread (unsalted Tuscan is most authentic otherwise rustic hard crust bread)
• 1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
• 1/2 red onion, sliced julienne style
• 1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
• 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Handful of capers
• White Balsamic Vinegar
1. Take the day-old bread, and lightly moisten it under the faucet. It should be moistened all the way through. If it’s too wet, gently squeeze excess water from the bread with your hands and set aside while chopping vegetables. The bread should crumble, not clump/collapse or get soggy.
2. Shred the bread into a large salad bowl. I like to keep some larger pieces of bread in my panzanella, but you can crumble the bread down until there are very fine pieces, or “breadcrumbs” that resemble more couscous.
3. Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes into pieces and add them to the bowl. Thinly slice a red onion and chiffonade the basil (or shred it with your hands).
4. Add vinegar, capers and olive oil and mix completely (start with a small amount of each, like 1 T. of vinegar and 3 T. of olive oil) and add more to taste. Taste before adding salt and pepper.
5. The salad can be served immediately or chilled for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.