Panzanella is a classic Tuscan bread and tomato salad that’s flavorful and fresh. Perfect for easy summer entertaining as a side salad or even a healthy light meal.
Panzanella bread salad is a well-loved piatto povero (peasant dish).There’s so much summer goodness happening in one wonderful Tuscan salad. Panzanella is made with summer’s sweet and juicy tomatoes, fresh basil,red onions and cucumber.
Traditionally, panzanella is a way to use up stale bread. If you don’t have old bread to use up, you can simply toast fresh bread chunks in the oven until they’re crunchy. The tomato juices and the simple dressing soak into the dry bread chunks and bring them back to life.
What is Panzanella?
Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad, usually dressed with a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. It’s always made with chunks of stale bread. The final part of the recipe is letting it sit for about 30 minutes. Panzanella could also sit for up to four hours. The longer it sits it can absorb the tomato juices and all the flavors can come together. We prefer it when the bread is soft from the tomato juice and the crust is a little chewy.
The tomatoes will lose their juiciness the longer they marinate with all the ingredients. Panzanella is truly meant to be eaten the day it’s made.
Before I go on more about this salad, just take a look at my new Pyrex dish! I love thrifting with mom and yesterday she pointed out this gorgeous turquoise beauty to me. It cost $1.49!!
How to Make Panzanella
Since panzanella is a fantastic rustic salad, it’s wonderful to make it to your taste. There are different versions of this recipe, but traditionally it is made with stale bread, tomatoes, onions, basil and really good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Anna Del Conte says it should be made with pan sciocco, or unsalted Tuscan bread. We do not have any unsalted bread here, so I used a gorgeous sourdough bread from our local favorite bakery.
The beauty of it is you could make the recipe to your liking. Add more bread than tomatoes, if you prefer. If you like it with more tomatoes, add more tomatoes. Adjust the ingredients to make it to your preference.
Panzanella is a super simple summer salad!
You could use red heirloom tomatoes or even multicolored ones. Here is all you need to do to make this perfect summer salad:
1 Cut the stale bread into small chunks and leave it out over night to dry out.
2 Mix the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
3 Combine all the panzanella ingredients in a small bowl. Gently toss together with the dressing.
What to Serve with Panzanella
Panzanella bread salad is wonderful to bring on a summer picnic. You could serve it with any grilled meat, like these grilled lamb chops. Also wonderful served with a flavorful baked chicken dish.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Panzanella-Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad
- 3 cups artisan bread (or baguette) cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes 3 pounds, about 8 cups chopped
- 1/2 large cucumber
- 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
- Slice or tear the bread into large cubes (about 1-inch). Place them on a baking sheet and leave them out to harden overnight (if the bread is not old).
- You could bake the bread in a 300 F oven until the crust is a little hardened but the inside is still soft. Made sure to move the bread around during the baking a couple of times.
- Place the bread chunks into a small bowl. Add some lukewarm water on top of the bread chunks to let it soak in and soften the bread a little while you prep the vegetables and dressing. (It could take about 1/2 cup water).
- Chop the tomatoes and cucumber into bite-sized pieces.Thinly slice the red onions.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper; whisk together.
- In a large bowl combine bread and chopped vegetables. Pour on the vinaigrette and gently stir together to combine all the flavors.
- Let the salad sit at least half an hour before serving, or up to 4 hours, and that's when all the magic happens!
- Stir in fresh basil just before serving. Best eaten the day it’s made.