Tomato & Bread Salad With Cheese
You know how somethings just sound lyrical? Words that just roll off your tongue and form a combination of vowels and consonants that simply work. Lullaby, Ferrari, Achtung Baby...well you get my drift. Culinarily speaking, Panzanella fits the profile perfectly. This rustic combination of left overs transcends it's peasant origins and becomes Alta Cucina (Fancy Cooking). Panzanella is a bread salad. It was most likely born in the kitchen of an overworked "contadina" whose frugality and pride would not let her throw away anything edible. Instead of throwing her stale bread to the chickens, she surveyed her kitchen and found ingredients to make a meal from what we may consider junk.
If you use your minds eye and look around her kitchen, you would see Olive Oil, Vinegar, Herbs in varying states of dryness, Cheese and that annoying field mouse she's been trying to catch since the cat ran away. You would spy some bread and whatever fresh vegetables were harvested that morning. Possibly olives and some spices too. So what does she do to make use of her wares and create a meal worthy of her abilities? She uses her innate understanding of flavors and ingredients to create a dish, so simple, so rustic that if I were less of a romantic and more of a cynic I would call it "Trash Salad". Instead it is a symphony of flavors that exemplifies Aristotle's claim to the letter, "The Whole is greater than the Sum of it's Parts". It's synergy!
So here goes, but remember recipes are just guidelines. This is my interpretation who knows what combinations you will throw together. Enjoy this incredibly flavorful dish with a chilled glass of Gavi or Greco di Tufo.