Ingredienti per 4 persone:
8 fette di pane casalingo (meglio se raffermo)
4 pomodori maturi
3 cipollotti rossi o bianchi
Olio extravergine di oliva
Now and then I enjoy spending an evening with my sisters: chatting, telling each other's secrets, laughing, reviving memories and sometimes making more or less fanciful or workable plans. Days ago we had just decided to meet at my home to spend the evening together and before they arrived I found an old scrap book with black and white pics of my grandparents: I started to leaf through it and suddenly memories of images and scents from my childhood seized and moved my mind. My grandparents were peasants, simple country folks, who woke up in the morning at the rooster's crow and went to bed in the evening "with" the hens. They owned a small vineyard and an olive grove, a good bunch of chicken and hens (for our Sundays' lunch an “old chicken soup" was never missing), a large vegetable garden and orchard, where during the year according to the season grew all kind of vegetables, and fruits like cherries, peaches, apples, pears, pomegranates, and there was even a persimmon tree, which at Christmas had its fine orange fruits still. And Christmas time was when all of us grandchildren adorned the tree, using lots of nuts, mandarines and biscuits we had cooked with the help of our grandma.
As well as Christmas in winter, another memorable time of the year were the summer holidays; after lunch sitting on the bed playing cards or learning a weird rhyme by heart, we waited until about five in the afternoon when the heat was less, to go out into the garden equipped with buckets, rakes and shovels built by our grandad at our measure and happily pulled up the weed, watered the vegetables, and picked ripe tomatoes, beans and zucchini!
Saturday was the day of the bread, as we cooked our bread every week: flour, water, yeast and salt, and let's all knead dough! In the morning grandad lit the firewood oven, grandma opened the dough tray and set the boards in the kitchen, where the loafs were lined up before baking. Then we all followed the operations from the kitchen to the oven where grandma put the bread to bake. The bread was good for a week and there were lots of ways to eat it even after.
For example, the “panzanella”, a typical Tuscan dish which I liked and still like a lot: bread salad is perhaps its correct definition, yet too simplified: it contains the taste and flavour of bread, of tomatoes, of basil and if you like, of fresh onion! In short, the flavours of summer, and for me, of my fanciful holidays in the country with the games, the fireflies, and the fairy tales my grandma told me before going to bed. I am glad to share these memories and I like to present you the recipe of the “panzanella”, which I hope you will enjoy as a refreshing summer meal:
Ingredients for 4 persons
8 slices of Tuscan bread (better if some days old, a bit hard)
4 ripe tomatoes
3 red or white fresh onions
extra-virgin olive oil
Put the slices of hard bread in a bowl with cold water and two spoons of vinegar, let them soften for about 20 minutes, then squeeze them well and crumble them into a salad bowl. Cut the onions in thin slices and the tomatoes in small pieces. Add the vegetables to the bread and stir well to make tasty. Add oil, salt, pepper and basil and stir again. Then put the panzanella into the fridge for at least one hour as it tastes best a little cool. If you like you can add tuna, olives, capers, cucumbers, celery or whatever your fancy suggests.
Try it, it's fresh and tasty. And a big hug to all grandma's of the world!