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!
I think you'll enjoy this Easy Italian Pasta Salad next.
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 millennial, 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.
You may also like my Cajun Panzanella Salad!
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
This salad makes a great meal on its own, but it's also perfect for a summer/BBQ side dish. It would go very well with grilled chicken or grilled shrimp.
Have you tried panzanella? Will you make this classic recipe?
Talk to me in the comments below!
Panzanella (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad)
- 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.
Doug Barton says
Yet another hit in my household! This is one of my favourites among your recipes Natasha, better than the sum of its parts and looks fabulous. I follow the recipe exactly, then add fried halloumi to turn it into a main course. Brilliant thanks!
So pleased to hear that, Doug!! Thanks for letting me know! Love the fried halloumi idea!
Excellent salad was a big hit. Serving this as an entree tonight with sliced grilled steak! Could eat this over and over!!
Wonderful... I am so pleased you liked it, Kim. I need to make it again this summer!
Kim Halverson says
Although it’s the middle of winter had some stale Italian bread to use up. Turned out fabulous. Wish I had taken a pic! Added some diced Soppresseta and mozzarella, perfecto!
Haha nothing wrong with salad in winter! So glad you enjoyed it.
This is exactly what I want to eat, every summer day. And looks gorgeous!
Thank you!! Let me know if you make it 🙂
What a great summer salad! Thanks!
Oh I am so glad you made this salad and put it back on my radar. For so long, I have wanted to make this salad, but I can never find the right recipe. This looks incredible.
Oooh let me know if you try it!!!
This is one of my favorite summer dinners! And a great way to utilize leftovers.
I'm digging that millennial pink salad bowl 😉
Thanks, Alex!! 🙂
Lindsay | With Salt and Pepper says
Everything in this!!! ALL OF IT!!! I could eat this every single day. Those fresh flavors are so refreshing and clean tasting...and I love me some bread. I LOVE this Natasha!
Thanks so much, Lindsay!! 🙂
Beautiful salad and it looks delicious! Pinning!
Thanks so much, April!!