Once bread was only home-made, it was made once a week. Fresh bread was just on the weekends. Tuscans, or better people from Siena, where Panzanella seems to have originated, invented this very Mediterranean salad.
The record of Italian panzanella goes back centuries. Tomato was added
when it became availabe after the discovery of America, the ingredients
were limited to cucumber, onion, basil, arugula, and bread.
This recipe was given by Manuela and Tina, chefs at Authentic Tuscany cooking class.
Soak the sliced stale bread in cold water with the vinegar for 20 minutes. Squeeze out the water and crumble the bread into a serving bowl.
Add tomatoes, cucumber, onions and basil. Season with olive oil and salt. Mix well and let sit. Serve with olive oil, vinegar, and salt on the side.
When squeezing bread it is so important to squeeze firmly handful chops once only, to avoid getting too small crumbs.