Fresh, light, typically of the summer and refreshing, Panzanella or Zanella bread (or tureen) is a dish which had already been mentioned by Boccaccio in the 14th century as “pan lavato” or bread soaked in tomato water. The origin of the dish is certainly peasant: the simplicity of how it’s made, the freshness and authenticity of the products used have made of Panzanella a dish with the undisputed delicacy which is so typical of the regions of Central Italy: it is here that the dish acquires in every city where it is prepared and tasted specific variations, above all realized by the way in which the bread is cut and broken or by the way in which it is immersed in the watery sauce.
In cubes, chopped, frayed, whole, soft or toasted, bread is certainly the king of the recipe in all its delicious variations, together with tomato and basil.
The actor Aldo Fabrizi, singer of Rome and a huge food lover, reveals the secrets of the recipe with one of his precious and amusing rhymed poems, dedicated to the tasty and healthy Roman cuisine:
It’s so easy to make Panzanella:
no secret about the ingredients,
and no specific rule,
the quality is important though.
Firstly: take some freshly tapped water,
Secondly: a bit of olive oil,
and thirdly: a drop of wine vinegar,
which makes you feel hungry (you’d rather hurry to eat it).
A rustic bread loaf which is slightly toasted,
prepared following an ancient recipe,
with a dark crust,
dipped before getting soaked.
Moreover, for a gentlemen’s dish,
it’s enough to top the tasting (or portion),
with basil, pepper and tomatoes.