I just created a new page on Italicious placing a number of my recipes into categories according to the region that they come from, or recipes influenced by traditional recipes from those areas. I am missing a number of regions and I took some serious creative license with others, Tuscany being one of them. I’m trying to pull off my insalata di farro as a Tuscan dish, when nothing so colorful ever graced the plate of a Tuscan household. I know I’m being harsh, everybody loves Tuscany, almost everybody. I can’t say that I had a bad experience living in Tuscany, I fell in love and got married there, I have a ton of friends still living there, but there were some things that left a lot to be desired, especially when it came to the food. Shit on a shingle was what my mother called crostini toscani, toasted unsalted bread with a chicken liver patè schmeared on top, I grew to like them, but similar to the hue of this Tuscan antipasto most other traditional tuscan dishes are very brown. Not a lot of vegetable action, and a lot of meat. Not a cuisine made for a girl like me. My husband and I are learning to be careful to talk about Tuscany when we around most non-Italians, a look of hurt comes into their eyes, so I will stop my rant now and talk about this wonderful Tuscan dish that I made for dinner last night.
I’ve written about other ways that Italians recycle food, mostly Neapolitans, but this is a brilliant way to recycle old bread. I had baked a loaf of bread on Saturday night, that we just didn’t get around to finishing on Sunday, and tried on Monday, but it was already hard as a rock. Happy that it hadn’t become moldy, as so many things do in this humid climate, I figured that I would make a panzanella, which is a Tuscan bread salad. We had wonderful heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, cucumbers from a friend’s garden, olives in the fridge and some shallots in the pantry. I based my recipe on one that I found on my friend’s website, her and her husband sell olive oil from (where else?) Tuscany, she has some wonderful traditional recipes on her site. I will be going back to her for more as I build up my regional repertoire.
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 shallot, diced very fine
- 5 or 6 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup of black olives, pits removed
- leftover bread, at least 5 or 6 slices (you want a good artisanal bread, commercial breads will only get soggy after they have been put under running water)
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Wet the bread all the way through, you don’t want to soak it, it just needs to get soft, but not soggy. Break into small pieces with your hands and place in a large bowl. Add the onion, tomatoes, cucumber, basil and olives. Toss through and let sit for at least an hour before serving. Drizzle olive oil over the salad and toss through immediately before serving.