Panzanella-Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad or Panzanella Toscana~ a classic Tuscan bread salad that's flavorful and fresh. Perfect for easy summer entertaining as a side salad or even a healthy light meal.
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.
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.
- Why You Will Love This Panzanella Toscana
- What is Panzanella?
- Dry Bread vs Stale Bread: Which bread is Better in Panzanella Salad?
- What Ingredients do you need for this tuscan bread salad
- how to make panzanella (bread and tomato salad)
- What tomatoes are best in an Italian panzanella salad?
- Panzanella Variations and Substitutions
- Expert Tips for Panzanella
- What to Serve with Panzanella
- Panzanella Toscana-Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad
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.
Why You Will Love This Panzanella Toscana
- Refreshing: The combination of ripe tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers and fresh basil gives this salad a refreshing taste that's perfect for hot summer days.
- Versatile: This salad can be served as a side dish or a light meal, making it a versatile addition to your meal rotation.
- Nutritious: Packed with vegetables and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, this salad is not only delicious but also full of nutrients and healthy fats.
- Easy to Customize: The basic recipe is simple, but it's easy to add your own twist. Add some olives for a salty kick, or some grilled chicken for extra protein.
- Uses Leftovers: This recipe is the perfect way to use up stale bread, reducing waste and creating a meal out of ingredients you already have on hand.
- Authentic Italian Flavors: This dish brings the taste of Tuscany to your table with its traditional ingredients and simple preparation.
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!!
Dry Bread vs Stale Bread: Which bread is Better in Panzanella Salad?
While both dry and stale bread can be used in Panzanella Salad, stale bread is typically the preferred choice due to its superior ability to absorb flavors while maintaining its structure.
What Ingredients do you need for this tuscan bread salad
- Artisan Bread (or baguette): The core ingredient of the dish, which gives the salad its unique and hearty texture. It absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients to create a rich, satisfying experience.
- Heirloom Tomatoes: They add a fresh, juicy element to the salad, and their natural sweetness balances out the other flavors.
- Cucumber: Provides a refreshing crunch and helps to lighten the overall dish.
- Red Onion: Its pungency adds depth of flavor and a bit of bite to the salad.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Acts as the base of the vinaigrette, providing a smooth, rich undertone that binds all the ingredients together.
- Red Wine Vinegar: Adds an element of tanginess that heightens the flavors of the ingredients and brings balance to the salad.
- Salt and Pepper: These seasonings enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients and bring out their best characteristics.
- Fresh Basil: Offers a fragrant, herbaceous note that complements the rest of the ingredients and adds a touch of freshness to the salad.
how to make panzanella (bread and tomato salad)
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.
Here's how to prepare the Panzanella-Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad:
1. 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). Alternatively, you can bake the bread in a 300 F oven until the crust is a bit hardened but the inside is still soft. Be sure to move the bread around a couple of times during baking.
2. 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).
3. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the red onions.
4. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper; whisk together.
5. In a large bowl combine bread and chopped vegetables. Pour on the vinaigrette and gently stir together to combine all the flavors.
6. Let the salad sit at least half an hour before serving, or up to 4 hours. This is when all the magic happens!
7. Stir in fresh basil just before serving. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made.
What tomatoes are best in an Italian panzanella salad?
You could use red heirloom tomatoes or even multicolored ones. Here is all you need to do to make this perfect summer salad:
- Cut the stale bread into small chunks and leave it out over night to dry out.
- Mix the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
- Combine all the panzanella ingredients in a small bowl. Gently toss together with the dressing.
Panzanella Variations and Substitutions
While the traditional Tuscan Panzanella salad is delicious on its own, there are several ways to customize it to your preferences or dietary needs:
- Gluten-Free: Substitute the artisan bread with a gluten-free loaf. Ensure it's a sturdy variety that can hold up to soaking.
- Cheese Addition: Add some crumbled feta or chunks of fresh mozzarella for a creamy element.
- Protein-Packed: Incorporate some grilled chicken or canned tuna for an added protein boost. This turns the salad into a more filling, main course option.
- Vegan: Replace the bread with a vegan variety, and ensure to check the rest of your ingredients are vegan-friendly.
- Additional Vegetables: Feel free to add other vegetables like bell peppers, olives, or capers for an extra crunch and flavor.
- Herb Variations: Swap out the basil for other fresh herbs like parsley or mint for a different flavor profile.
- Dressing Variations: Try replacing the red wine vinegar with another type like white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. You could even try lemon juice for a refreshing twist.
Remember, the key to a great Panzanella salad is balancing the flavors and textures to your liking. These variations and substitutions allow you to make the dish uniquely yours.
Expert Tips for Panzanella
- Use Quality Ingredients: Since Panzanella is a simple salad with few ingredients, it's essential that you use the highest quality ingredients you can find. A flavorful artisan bread, ripe heirloom tomatoes, and the best quality extra-virgin olive oil will make all the difference in your salad.
- Bread Choice Matters: Choose a sturdy, crusty bread that can stand up to the dressing and not turn mushy. Ciabatta, baguette or a rustic sourdough are all good choices.
- Don't Skip the Resting Time: Allowing the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving lets the bread soak up the flavors of the dressing and tomatoes. This waiting period turns the salad from simply good to exceptional.
- Add Fresh Ingredients Just Before Serving: Certain ingredients like fresh basil should be added just before serving to prevent wilting and to ensure the most vibrant flavors.
- Watch the Salt: Since bread is a main ingredient in this salad, it's important to watch your salt. Bread, especially commercial varieties, can contain higher levels of salt, so be sure to taste as you go.
- Make it Colorful: Experiment with different colors and varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers. This will not only add different flavors but also make the salad visually appealing.
What to Serve with Panzanella
As I mentioned before, it's best eaten the day it's made.
If you have any leftovers, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I have it it the second day, but it was with a very crusty sourdough bread. So the bread still held its shape. Once you dress the salad, if you use a baguette, it will be very soft the next day.
Panzanella, in Italian, literally translates to 'small bread bits in a pan'. Originating in Tuscany, it is a traditional Italian bread salad that features stale bread soaked in vinaigrette, mixed with fresh, ripe tomatoes and other vegetables.
The classic ingredients in Panzanella include stale or dry bread, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and fresh basil. These ingredients are combined and tossed with a simple vinaigrette made of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Salt and pepper are added to taste. Variations may include other vegetables, proteins, or cheeses.
Panzanella is versatile and can be served alongside a variety of dishes. Due to its freshness and acidity, it pairs well with grilled meats such as lamb chops, or flavorful baked chicken dishes. It can also be enjoyed on its own as a light meal, particularly during the warm summer months.
It seems there might be some confusion here as "Pantanella" is not a known Italian dish. It's possible that "Pantanella" is a typographical error or a local variation of the name for "Panzanella". However, without further information, it's difficult to provide a definitive answer.
No, it is not necessary to salt your tomatoes first in a Panzanella salad.
Other salad recipes:
- Sweet Summer Corn Salad
- Grilled Chicken Cutlets with a Cherry Tomato Panzanella
- Vegan Biryani Salad
- Asian Watermelon Salad
- Kale and Red Onion Pizza
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
Panzanella Toscana-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.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.