A simple, delicious salad that can also be served as an antipasto. One or two-day old bread coarse white country bread to which very fresh vegetable are added along with excellent olive oil and good vinegar. Usually associated with Tuscany, but quite popular in Umbria too where the unsalted country bread is similar. There are many versions of Panzanella, this is the basic version and to our mind, the tastiest. Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before serving so that it is at room temperature.
1 lb Italian country style bread 2 days old, in slices 2 inches thick
2/3 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
3 T good quality red wine vinegar or more to taste
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lb fresh, firm, ripe tomatoes, cubed, about 5 cups
1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
10 to 15 fresh basil leaves, washed, drained on paper towels and shredded, a few extra for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the bread in cold water to cover for about ten minutes
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing of oil, the 2 vinegars, salt and pepper, whip with a fork to combine thoroughly.
Remove, squeezing out as much moisture as you can.
Coarsely crumble the bread into a large serving bowl.
Add the tomatoes, the onion and the basil.
Add a little dressing at a time till all ingredients are well coated.
Test for seasoning.
Garnish with a few whole basil leaves.
Crostini di fegatini e funghi
Preparation – Medium
Toasted rounds of Italian bread with chicken liver pate are a classical component of Tuscan antipasti offerings and usually accompany prosciutto, salami and finocchiona (a sausage strongly flavored with fennel seeds). In recent years crostini have also become popular garnished with chopped tomato and flavored with basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Our ciabatta bread works well for bruschetta or crostini.
•1 – 2 Porcini or Portobello mushrooms or use dried
•1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
•4 large chicken livers
•6 fresh sage leaves
•2 garlic cloves, chopped
•freshly ground pepper
•1/2 cup vin santo*
•1 anchovy fillet
•1 heaping tablespoon capers, drained
•1 egg yolk
•milk, if needed
•12 slices firm, coarse-textured bread
SOAK the mushrooms in hot water and cover for at least 10 minutes. Drain well.
HEAT 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken livers, sage, garlic, mushrooms and some pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes or until the livers have lost their red color. Add the vin Santo* and cook until evaporated. Season with salt to taste.
ADD the anchovy fillet and capers. Transfer mixture to food processor and puree. Blend in the egg yolk.
LIGHTLY coat the slices of bread on both sides with olive oil and toast in a preheated 375 degrees F oven until golden brown. Allow to cool. Spread the mixture on the croutons and serve immediately.
*Vin santo is a Tuscan dessert wine. Substitute a dessert wine or sweet Marsala – or 1/4 cup brandy for more bite.