“Typical Tuscan cuisine allows us to express ourselves in the best way,
because it has traditions from land and sea.”Chef Michelino Gioia, Hotel Il Pellicano
There is no dish that celebrates a lazy Tuscan summer afternoon better than the classic panzanella. Panzanella has been around for centuries. Traditionally made with stale Tuscan bread (any artisanal bread will do), 14th century Florentine writer Giovanni Boccaccio was the first to a shout out this easygoing dish, calling it pan lavato (washed bread) in his hit Renaissance book Il Decameron. From washed to delicious soaked in the very best of homegrown ingredients, the panzanella is a celebration of Tuscany terrain-red onions, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
To Il Pellicano‘s chef Michelino Gioia, simplicity is a sign of courage and one of the best ways to distinguish between one destination and another is by creating a synergy with local producers and using as many local products as possible. All his menus are guided by this very principle of focusing on territorially typical creative dishes best enhanced by products from producers coming from within the area.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
400 grams (1.6 cups) of Tuscan bread
250 grams (1 cup) cherry tomatoes
100 grams (0.4 cups) red onion
100 grams (0.4 cups) celery
200 grams (0.8 cups) cucumber
200 grams (0.8 cups) EVO Tuscan olive oil
75 grams (0.3 cups) white vinegar
a bunch of basil leaves
Start by washing all the vegetables. Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters. (Alternatively, you can also use diced cherry tomatoes). Cut the red onion into very thin slices and soak them in a small quantity of vinegar. Peel the cucumbers, remove the seeds and cut into cubes. Peel the celery ribs and cut into slices. Cut the bread into 1cm thick cubes and toast in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for 5 to 7min until toasted. Once all the ingredients are prepared, combine celery tomatoes and cucumbers and season with plenty of extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper. Leave to flavour for about 20 minutes.
Arrange the toasted Tuscan bread on the plate (or, as in the original version, stale bread) and pour on garnish which will soften and flavour the bread. Add a few rings of red onion and tear a few basil leaves on top.