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Panzanella Recipe

Preparation time: 10 minutes+1hour
Expense: 4 euros

Panzanella the Tuscan wayThe Panzanella recipe originated back at the time when shepherds used to herd sheep for long distances and had small amounts of food to take. What they usually had with themselves was some loaves of stale bread and the various vegetables they could find along the road to and back from the mountains and grasslands. Panzanella combines these ingredients adding the binding flavor of extra virgin olive oil and vinegar for a surprisingly tasty result that will save you money and time. Panzanella is a typical summer dish great for lunch and dinner time. It can be a quick winter salad too, maybe accompanied by more onion.

Ingredients:
This recipe is enough for 3-4 people. You may increase each ingredient to taste.

- 2 pounds (or 1 kilo) of stale bread. Best if it is hard-crust bread (artisan bread) as it soaks water without crumbling too much.
- Two large ripe tomatoes, diced or sliced
- cucumber peeled and sliced or diced
- lettuce (any kind) clean it and shred it into bite-size pieces.
- one large onion diced or thinly sliced. Many would not like raw onion, but it is the tastiest ingredient and it make the difference.
- basil leaves (a handful)
- vinegar (red)
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt

Preparation:
Break the bread loaf into fist-size pieces and set it in a bowl of water to cover it completely (add an empty dish on top of the bread to keep underwater. Do not let it soak too much as it will crumble excessively and be too mushy. Once you realize the bread is all soaked but still quite firm, remove the excess water and squeeze the water out of each piece of bread with your hands.
Mix all the ingredients together except for the bread and add the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste. After mixing well, add the bread and keep stirring thoroughly. Add more seasoning if needed.
Refrigerate for at least one hour, then serve immediately.

Some variations add tuna fish, corn, or white beans, but the true recipe is simpler and very tasty nevertheless. Buon appetito!

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