Tomato and bread salad – panzanella

Use a coarse-textured, tasty bread for this popular rustic salad, known as pan molle (soft bread). This is the basic salad that is served in trattories in Florence.


  • SERVES 6
  • 250g coarse firm white bread, crusts removed
  • 600g ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • A bunch of basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Tear the bread into small pieces in a salad bowl and sprinkle with cold water so that it is well moistened but not soggy. Add the vegetables and the basil. Dress with the oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and toss well. Leave for 30 minutes for the bread to absorb the dressing. VARIATIONS: Add any or all of these to the dressing: 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 seeded and finely chopped chilli pepper, 2 tablespoons capers preserved in brine, 12 chopped anchovy fillets.


Made originaljly with fresh bread. Perhaps could have been toasted. Nice but not as special as hoped.


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