I looked at a bunch of variations on this one at epicurious, including a bunch of reviews and there was great argument as to how to treat the bread: toast it, grill it, sauté it, fry it or leave it alone. It seems that the traditional Panzanella does not alter the bread, but some found the “soggy” bread off-putting. I’ll leave it up to you, but I did not alter the bread, and found this to be a fantastic use of almost-rock-hard French bread and the summer mother-load of tomatoes. And the next day for lunch, I just stirred in a few more tomatoes and it was great. Of course, you must use excellent quality tomatoes, but as you can see below the potential variations on this theme are huge. I think that cucumbers are the most common vegetable addition to this salad, but I didn’t have any and loved the blanched baby green beans from the garden in it.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or balsamic if you prefer)
1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste with a pinch of salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 ish cups of cubed crusty bread (baguette, ciabatta, etc)
about a 1b. of fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
Whisk together the vinegar,garlic paste and pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil to emulsify. Add remaining ingredients and salt to taste, pushing down the bread pieces so that none are dry. Allow to stand at least 15 minutes at room temperature so that bread will soak up the dressing.
I added a teaspoon of anchovy paste, a small minced sweet red onion, a handful of blanched green beans, fresh mozzarella cut into pieces and some chopped thyme and oregano
other suggestions from other people:
olives, seeded and chopped cucumber, chopped bell peppers, feta cheese, burrata cheese, corn, arugula, slices of prosciutto