Panzanella is a very simple and practical dish: you start off with day-old bread and you then add all the other ingredients that then complete the dish. Although several, different versions exist, the main idea is that you use up day-old bread. It comes from the very old recipe of"cappon di galera" (in Elba it is known as "Capponata") when "Pan di Munizione" or dried biscuits were given out to the sailors when on board at the time of the Grand Duke. Those made in the Biscotteria in Portoferraio(today the Town Council buildings) were very famous; typically they had 24 holes in them to help them dry.
It was normal to eat this dish on the beach in summer because you could prepare it there and then and be sure that everybody enjoyed it simply because it was very quick, easy, fresh and the smell was always very tempting.
400 gr day-old bread, 300 gr salted tuna fish, 12 salted anchovies, a handful of fresh onions, 5/6 fresh tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, capers or olives to taste, some fresh marjoram and/or basil leaves, extra virgin oil, salt, pepper and chilli peppers.
The main ingredient is the salted tuna fish, or "tonnina" as it is called in Italian. Soak it in water for one or two hours to remove the excess salt. The anchovies too will have to be cleaned, salt and bones removed, then chopped into small pieces.
This is where the bread comes in: use only dried and hardened bread (some bakers in Elba actually sell it specifically for making panzanella), soak briefly but not too long so as to avoid it becoming too "mushy".
Roughly break up the bread and put in a bowl then add all the ingredients that you have chopped up in the meantime: the tomatoes, cucumber and fresh onions, and add the tuna fish, anchovies, capers and olives.
If you wish you can add some chopped basil leaves, the oil and salt, pepper and chilli pepper to taste.
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