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Bread, tomato and tuna salad - "Panzanella"

Recipe by:Biba Caggiano
Biba Restaurant, Sacramento


  • 8 oz coarse, textured Italian bread without the crust, 4 to 5 days old
  • 3 medium tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 10 to 12 pitted black olives, quartered
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper
  • 1-7 oz tuna, canned in olive oil, drained of its oil
  • Additional tomato slices


Panzanella is an unusual bread salad, a classic dish of Florence. It's most important ingredients are the coarse, textured Tuscan bread used when it is several days old, ripe summer tomatoes and golden extra-virgin olive oil. But as always, in Italy, each cook has his own variation. This version comes from a little cafe a few miles outside of Florence. There, tuna and black olives were added to the Panzanella. The salad can be prepared several hours ahead and refrigerated. In this case, the dressing and the tuna should be added just before serving.

Break the bread into pieces and soak in a bowl of cold water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze the bread dry, making sure to remove all the water completely. Place the bread in a large bowl and break it up in small pieces with a fork. Add the tomatoes, onion, basil and olives.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar with the garlic and the olive oil; mix well. Season the salad with the salt and several grinds of pepper. Add the oil dressing and mix well to combine. Add the tuna and mix gently into the salad. Place the salad on serving dishes; decorate with the additional tomato slices and serve.

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