Some things stick with you forever. Years ago, I’d fallen in love with all things Italian – including an undercover detective named Leonardo – and vowed to go back. I watched Fellini movies, rollerbladed to language tapes, and baked Tuscany’s signature saltless bread, pane Toscana, and ate it smeared with butter and Nutella each morning, along with coffee made in my tiny Bialetti pot, just like I did when I lived in Florence.

When I returned one summer to go to language school, my friend welcomed me with a light, late dinner – panzanella and lots of wine.

Now, every summer, when I have too many tomatoes (oh what a problem to have!), I make panzanella, and if it’s not too hot, I sit outside, and with a glass of wine, too, I’m right back in Florence. Salute!

4-6 thick slices stale bread, cut into 1-inch chunks
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced into large chunks
1 medium cucumber, sliced into thick discs and quartered
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
10 leaves basil, torn
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
⅔ cup olive oil
sea salt

1. Put all of the ingredients, except the oil and vinegar into a large bowl.

2. Mix the oil and vinegar in a jar or whisk in a small bowl, pour over the salad and toss well.

3. Put in fridge for 3-4 hours, at least. The longer this salad sits, the better it gets.