A few years ago I was lucky enough to travel to Italy to work on a book about pasta. We stayed in this little village outside of Firenze, on a farm with a large kitchen, amazing view and olive trees outside my bedroom window.
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In the main house of the farm worked this little old italian woman called Gabriella. She was a typical cliche, small, wide and a big smile. Just the kind of woman you would put in the kitchen if this was a movie. I worked in the kitchen with her a few days to learn some pasta tricks from her. One day for lunch she whipped up this awesome salad, panzanella. A bread salad, but she added pasta so that it would feed all of us. It was amazing, full of textures and flavor. She told me the secret was day old bread and to use a really good balsamico. For me this is the perfect summer food, easy, simple and full of taste. So this one is for you Gabriella, were ever you are.

Serves 4

1/2 day old country style loaf, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1 small red onions, sliced
1/2 cup black olives
1 lbs pasta, like penne, cooked
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, just the leafs
1/4 cup olive oil
4-6 tablespoons good quality balsamico

  1. Preheat the oven to 360F.
  2. Place the bread cubes on a baking tray and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake until golden and crispy.
  4. Cool.
  5. Mix together tomatoes, red onion, olives, pasta, bread cubes, parsley and basil.
  6. Mix and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamico and serve.


Photography by Studio Dreyer Hensley

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