Panzanella is a Tuscan salad created out of the need to use up excess tomato and stake bread. It started off being a rustic peasant food, until the food culture boomed and people have reverted to appreciating the simple matters in life. As is typical of recipes that travel, things are added or left out, leaving only a bare resemblance of the original. So strictly speaking, I think the real panzanella is composed of only bread and tomatoes. Nowadays, you see a variety of unauthentic albeit delicious add-ons: various coclored sweet peppers, onion, cucumbers… I used crusty bread in this salad because its crusty-chewey ratio is supreme in my opinion.
1 loaf Crusty Bread
3 cucumber, sliced
6 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt and pepper
25 whole basil leaves, slice thinly
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, arrange on a baking sheet, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes to toast the bread. Remove it from the oven and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine bread, cucumber, tomatoes, and onion.
In a small jar, shake together a quarter cup olive oil, the vinegar, salt and pepper.
Pour over the salad ingredients, tossing gently.
Add basil and Parmesan shavings and toss again.
Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.