This is a simple, delicious salad that can also be served as an antipasto. One or two-day old bread coarse white country bread (unsalted) to which very fresh vegetable are added along with excellent olive oil and good vinegar. To select only best quality is the secret of this dish! This is the basic version but there are many local versions of Panzanella (depending on the vegetables to your disposal) Better if prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator about half an hour before serving at room temperature
1 lb Italian unsalted country style bread, 2 days old, in slices
2/3 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
3 T good quality red wine vinegar (to taste)
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lb fresh, firm, ripe tomatoes, cubed, about 5 cups
1 small onion, thinly sliced
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 twenty minutes
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing of oil, the 2 vinegars, salt and pepper: whip with a fork to combine thoroughly.
Remove bread from water, squeezing out as much moisture as you can (help yourself with a clean white cotton dishcloth). 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. Buon appetito!
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