Panzanella has become a favorite dish to cook back home among people who have traveled to Italy, evoking memories of Tuscan sunshine and a good glass of Chianti. It’s so easy to make, and anyone that has been to Italy brings this recipe back home with them. The version I share with you here is made with onions—red onions or even sweet onions like Vidalia will be delicious. You can serve this salad on its own, or with a plate of mozzarella and prosciutto, as a great starter or as a main course. Country bread is recommended, but rustic whole grain or whole wheat is a great substitute.
1 pound two day old country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 pounds ripe tomatoes at room temperature, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 cup coarsely diced red onion
12 fresh basil leaves, shredded, plus a few extra springs for garnish
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toss the bread, tomatoes, onion and shredded basil leaves in a large bowl until well mixed. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Decorate with sprigs of fresh basil.