And when she got there, the cupboard was bare … Almost Panzanella

You know what it’s like when you get back from a holiday and there’s nothing in the fridge apart from a sad carrot and a stinky piece of cheese you thought might just last until you got back? Yes? I thought so! Well, imagine how little there was at home for us after an absence of almost 5 months. A deeply sad situation. Thank god for the local bar/restaurant where we were welcomed with open arms on our first night and sent home with bread, tomatoes and onions to see us through the next morning.

After my favourite Spanish breakfast I got to thinking about how inventive we can all be when we have very little to play around with. Every country has a dish for leftover bread and the Italian bread and tomato salad called Panzanella came to mind.

Sunshine is a glorious extra!
Sunshine is a glorious extra!

We have litres and litres of our very own beautiful olive oil which was milled just a few weeks ago and our lemon tree is loaded with lemons. I added a tin of tuna from the larder (not very authentic but what the heck) and a handful of parsley from the garden. Honestly, I should leave the fridge bare more often so that I can remember to enjoy dishes like this.

Ingredients (you choose the quantities)

  • Stale bread cut into small cubes
  • Roughly chopped tomato and onion
  • Chopped parsley (basil is more authentic though)
  • A finely chopped clove of garlic
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Lashings of olive oil and plenty of lemon juice or wine vinegar
  • Add some chopped cucumber if your fridge is being kind to you
  • Optional – a tin of tuna (omit to keep it vegetarian)

Put all the ingredients (except the seasoning and dressing) in a bowl and mix with your hands. Dress lavishly with oil, add lemon or vinegar to taste and season. Mix again with your hands, squishing the tomato a little so that the juices run out. Leave it for at least 10 minutes so that it can absorb all those wonderful flavours and enjoy!


50 thoughts on “And when she got there, the cupboard was bare … Almost Panzanella

  1. Live here, the cupboards are almost always bare. We both hate shopping 🙂 When we moved from the US we didn’t bring any food with us and it was an adventure building up our stocks again. Are you back for a while now?

  2. I love panzanella, Tanya! It reminds me of late Summer, when we’re flooded with tomatoes. I pick the ripest ones to make panzanella. That local restaurant surely knew what they were doing. 🙂

  3. Panzanella….. Who would have thought my “throw-together” favourite lunch dish actually had a name. 🙂
    My tomatoes and red onions are just perfect at the moment – and there’s still some basil growing in the garden.

  4. Hi , Tania , welcome back.
    Did you know that the vegetarian version is served for breakfast in Tuscany?
    Thank you for reminding me Panzanella!

  5. Welcome home…I’m sure it is nice to be back. Your panzanella salad looks good and I love the nice red tomatoes in it.

  6. Love panzanella and it sister fattoush and make them regularly and enjoy them hugely even when the cupboard is not bare 🙂 ! The taste buds sing!!

  7. Well what jumped out at me from your post was not the Recipe that you have given but the aspect of our mind which revs up the creativity and compromise quotient in times of need. What would you say makes that happen?


    1. I think you hit the nail on the head mentioning “times of need” – we can be pretty ingenious when we have too and I love that sometimes we are forced to do this. Of course, for many people this is simply a way of surviving, and that is so much tougher.

  8. Your panzanella is making me crave good tomatoes…which we don’t really have here at the moment. But as soon as we do, I’m making this! I love the addition of the tuna, too. So nice with all the flavors you have here. Brilliant improvisation, Tanya!

  9. Your own olive oil…I am doing that disgusting thing that Homer Simpson does when he thinks of doughnuts…totally disgusting…olive…oil…drooooooool!…

    1. We´re so lucky, we have about 30 olive trees and this year was a good year. The oil is especially fantastic at this time of year when it has jsut been pressed) and we take it to a local old fashioned mill where they cold stone press the olives. The oil is tangy and fruity – wish I could send you some!

      1. Wish I could dip some gorgeous bread into some… who am I kidding…I could drink it from a glass! 🙂 You must show us some of it in one of your posts… a lovely glass bottle of Chez Chica 2014 vintage 🙂

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