Peasant heaven, bruschetta and panzanella

I have finally returned from my travels this summer and have had some of the most incredible food. This last trip was to Naples. I came home with a suitcase full of cheese, capers, pasta, oregano, figs and proper Neapolitan bread. Now, this bread is full of flavour, crusty and only found in the region. It also goes stale after a day or two so after enjoying it to mop up sauces here’s how I used it.


First chop tomatoes, if you can get plum or cherry they have the best flavour, if not tomatoes on the vine will do. Then add some minced garlic, basil and  a drop of oregano. Dress with olive oil and set aside.

Now we need to grill the bread. When my family made this they used the barbecue to toast the bread, which as you can imagine adds even more flavour, but at home the oven grill will do. Slice the bread to the thickness you like and place under a hot grill.
Once toasted rub with garlic and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Now all that’s left to do is simply top with the tomato, be generous!

Enjoy! 🙂

Now the next day the bread is already stale. To make panzanella you need a stale bread, sourdough is best. This is traditionally a Tuscan salad using bread and tomatoes.

What you need:
Stale sourdough bread
Red onion (if like me you had none in the house white will do)
Extra virgin olive oil
A few capers

First, chop the bread into cubes. In a separate bowl mince some garlic, add the oil and vinegar untill you have created a dressing to your taste. Then pour over the bread. It will soak up the liquid and become juicy and fragrant. Leave for 30 mins to an hour.

After allowing the bread to soak up the dressing add the chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onion and capers. Then get a nice big handful of fresh basil and tear into the salad.
 Give the salad a good mix making sure all the flavours and combined.

 The Panzanella is now ready to be served up and eaten or can be left for a further few hours to mature before eating. Both ways are bellisima! 🙂
 Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

21 thoughts on “Peasant heaven, bruschetta and panzanella

  1. I absolutely adore Panzanella. In fact I am a fan of all the Italian bread soups too. Gives me many ideas how to use my stale bread (when we have it around for long enough to go stale!)

  2. I love bruschetta… I cringe when someone pronounces it incorrectly though (bru-shet-a – noooo!!) haha. In Barcelona you can get a great variant simply called ‘Pan con Tomate’ (Bread with Tomato) – I can’t stop eating it when I’m there… (the difference with the Italian version is that the tomato is really squashed against the bread to make it soften).

    By the way, I think you’ll like the post I just put up – also an italian recipe and very tasty!

  3. As an italian, and a tuscan, I am AMAZED by the fact that finally a foreign wrote bruschetta and panzanella PROPERLY! therefore thank you!!!!
    About Panzanella I have a remark, if I may. We do not put cucumber nor garlic nor capers (vinegar is optional). The real panzanella is bread, basil, tomatoes and red onion. Furthermore we prepare the bread differently. 🙂 You take the hard bread, you leave in water for some time and then you squeeze it (that’s why you need to use tuscan bread, with other breads this procedure may fail). You will get more like a “porridge” mass rather that what you got, but that’s how it has to look:
    Try to remove as much water as possible. After this you chop the tomatoes, red onion and basil and add it. The VERY important ingredients are: terribly tasty tomatoes and REAL olio extravergine! That you will add, together with salt, as much as you want. The trick is, as I said, to get very good ingredients. Try to find also Tropea’s red onion. 😉
    Let me know….
    (I hope I did not sound like a snob I-know-everything italian type. I wanted just to be helpful :-))

  4. Oh, oh, oh…. I just remembered my favourite salad ever! Many thanks this looks awesome. Too bad tomatoes are not fresh from the garden this time of year. I’ll have to wait until summer. 😦

  5. Ooh – I made a really low-rent version of this recent for Dom@Belleau Kitchen’s Random Recipe Challenge. I was surprised by how good it was. Thanks for “liking” my roulade joconde post by the way – very kind of you.

  6. Yum! Bruschetta is a holiday staple at my house, we just made some this weekend. Sometimes we add a little balsamic vinegar too. I love your pictures, these look so good!

  7. Hi, I love this recipe. Congradulations on your effort. I like seeing people with love and passion for what they do. PS: I’d like to bake “panettone”, could you help me in any way?
    Thanks,take care.

  8. Pingback: Peasant heaven, bruschetta and panzanella | ediblesubstance « wundercooking3

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