A surprisingly tasty Tuscan use of leftover bread is Panzanella. Essential to the tastiness of it is top quality extra virgin olive oil, good red wine vinegar, the bread and of course flavorful tomatoes. Usually associated with Tuscany, but is popular in Umbria as well. This is one of many versions. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours or taken on picnics. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving. Panzanella is an Italian bread and tomato salad made with garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar.
From Rachel Ray
Italian tuna in oil, 4 ounces
1 jar marinated artichokes, 6 ounces
Hot peppers, cheery peppers, Banana peppers or pepperoncini
1/2 pound sliced Italian deli meats, such as hot or sweet sopressata, Genoa salami
1/2 pound assorted Italian cheeses, sliced or cubed, such as asiago, provolone, and smoked mozzarella.
Recipe provided by Adriana: www.cookiesfromitaly.com
Some say using a blender rather than a food processor results in a smoother puree. When combining pesto with pasta, Ligurians mix a small ladle of the cooking water into the pesto just before adding the noodles; this dilutes the concentrated sauce and helps it adhere to the pasta.
Pesto is great on meats, fish or with pasta.
When there is no time to cook, I resort to this garlic-and-olive-oil sauce for spaghetti or linguine. With all the ingredients on hand, this can be ready in less than 10 minutes, just enough time to boil the pasta. Use a fruity extra virgin olive oil for its intense flavor and cook the garlic slowly in it so it does not brown.