About a year ago I was researching recipes from de re Coquinaria , Apicuis’s collection of recipes. There are several recipes for various bread salads. Though traditional Panzanella is clearly post-Colombian exchange (it highlights that most useful new world fruit, the tomato), it has clearly grown out of that same tradition of combining raw vegetables with stale bread and seasonings. Take my word that the description of stale bread and raw vegetables does not do this dish justice. Panzanella is both light and satisfying. I find it is the perfect dish for a hot summer evening, particularly late in the season when good tomatoes and cucumbers are abundant and cheap. In fact, I was prompted to make Panzanella after I received some lovely tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from a friend’s garden. Panzanella is usually served as a small plate, but if you add hard boiled eggs or tuna it can hold its own as the centerpiece of a meal.

(serves 2 as a main course)

2 1/2 c. diced vegetables (mix of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers)
1/2 onion chopped finely
1/4 c. white wine
1 T wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 c. dried bread
a handful of basil leaves, snipped finely with scissors
4 hard boiled eggs

Finely mince your onions. If you are using a sweet onion, (such as vidalia) simply set it aside to mix in. If you are using a standard yellow onion (what I happened to have on hand) then you may want to let the onion sit in a little cold water for a while. This rinses off some of the chemical components that give onions their harsh edge. I cut my onions first, and let them sit while I finish chopping the other vegetables. Chop the remaining vegetables.

Mix together chopped vegetables, bread, wine, olive oil, vinegar and salt. I like to add garlic a little bit at a time as some garlic cloves are stronger than others. Serve with quartered hard boiled eggs.

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