Panzanella is a classic Tuscan tomato and bread salad that’s fresh, flavorful, and makes a healthy light meal or side salad. Perfect for easy summer entertaining!
This post was originally published on May 23, 2017. I’m going through and updating some of my old posts with new photos, better info, and more clearly written recipes.
There’s so much goodness in here. Colorful tomatoes, fresh basil, peppers, red onions, cucumber, capers… the list goes on.
Traditionally, panzanella was a way to use up bread that’s past its prime. The dressing and tomato juices would soak into the dry bread and re-animate it, basically.
The idea isn’t to make the bread go soggy but for it to soften up a bit. Using a more dense bread works best for this recipe. A flimsy bread would get soggy faster, and that’s no fun. I used a ciabatta baguette.
I’m a millenial, so waiting for anything isn’t a strong point of mine. 😛 I didn’t want to wait days for my bread to dry out, so I made croutons. Pretty sure this is an acceptable way of making panzanella nowadays. 😉
How to make panzanella
Cut a baguette into crouton-size pieces (I used half a baguette). Toss with olive oil, garlic, and salt & pepper, and bake for 20 minutes.
While the croutons are baking, you prep the rest of the ingredients.
The key to this salad is letting it sit for a while for the croutons to absorb some of the dressing and tomato juices. They then become tender-crisp.
We love our garlic here on S&L, so naturally I made the croutons with plenty of it. It just adds a special touch that makes this salad even more awesome. You can either use minced garlic or garlic powder. I’ve done it with both, and I prefer the garlic powder because it’s easier to distribute evenly.
The dressing is a fairly basic vinaigrette that doesn’t compete too much with the acidity of the tomatoes.
It has red wine vinegar, olive oil, a dash of Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, Dijon mustard, and some garlic.
This salad is a GREAT way to use up your bounty of summer tomatoes. And fresh summer basil!! The basil in my planter is going crazy right now.
When I was envisioning this panzanella salad recipe, I thought of adding a bit of shaved parmesan cheese although it’s not traditional. I did see a few panzanella recipes out there with it, so I guess I’m not the only one with that idea!
It’s optional, but it certainly goes with the other flavors in this salad and I wouldn’t leave it out personally.
What to serve with panzanella
Have you tried panzanella? Will you make this classic recipe?
Talk to me in the comments below!
Panzanella (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad)
Panzanella is a classic Tuscan tomato and bread salad that's fresh, flavorful, and makes a healthy light meal or side salad. Perfect for easy summer entertaining!
- 1/2 regular-sized baguette or 1 small baguette (preferably ciabatta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Dash of Italian seasoning
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 12 ounces assorted tomatoes cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 English cucumber diced
- 1 bell pepper (I used orange) diced
- Red onion chopped, to taste (start with 1/4 med. onion)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Handful fresh basil chopped
- Parmesan shaved, to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cut bread into 1" pieces. Add to a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and garlic powder. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prep the dressing by adding all the dressing ingredients to a jar. Shake well and set aside.
- Prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Allow the croutons to cool for about 5 minutes, then toss them with the rest of the salad ingredients and dressing (shake well before adding it).
- Let the salad sit for 30 minutes prior to serving. The croutons will soak in the dressing and tomato juices, and that's when the magic happens!
- Serves 2 for an entree-sized salad and 4+ as an appetizer/side salad. I recommend using a whole baguette if you double the recipe.