In Sicily, as through the whole of the Mediterranean, buying bread is a daily activity. To ever run out of bread is unacceptable. So it is natural that you will, at times, have several stale half-loaves in your kitchen. Our favorite way to use this bread was to make panzanella, especially in the summer when the tomatoes were so good.
Living in America, we don’t seem to generate so much stale bread, but we occasionally miss the panzanella. Fortunately, with good country-style bread increasingly available here, we can satisfy our nostalgia:
1 large loaf “Italian” or “French” bread
1/2 to 1 cup Mistral Olive Oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cubed
3 large ripe tomatoes, cubed
1 medium red onion, cubed
1/2 cup pitted black olives
Spread 1″ cubes of the bread on a baking pan, and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Shake pan once or twice. After 10-15 minutes the bread will just begin to brown. Place the cubes in a salad bowl, and toss in tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and olives. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add to the “bread salad”, toss, sprinkle with a few fresh basil leaves and serve!