Learn how to make panzanella salad using a handful of ingredients. Ready in 30 minutes, this panzanella recipe is perfect for hot summer days!
We love big salads with big flavors! From Mediterranean orzo salad, luscious burrata salad or classic Nicoise salad, there are so many recipes you can choose from to enjoy any day of the week. This panzanella salad recipe is a summertime essential that everyone loves and will come for seconds!
Table Of Contents:
What Is Panzanella?
Also known as panmolle, panzanella is a Tuscan bread and tomato salad that's perfect for summer. The base of the salad is tomatoes, bread, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Sometimes there are other additions such as cucumber and onion. Much like the crispy pita in fattoush, panzanella employs toasted day-old bread.
- Bread: Opt for stale bread for optimal results. My choice was ciabatta, although sourdough or Italian bread work as well.
- Tomatoes: Sweet tomatoes such as campari work best for this recipe. I used tomatoes on the vine, they're juicy with a subtle sweetness.
- Red onion: Half of a red onion is enough for this salad. Alternatively, shallots can be used if preferred.
- Garlic: You need a clove of garlic for the dressing. It's best to grate it using a microplane,
- Olive oil: Use olive oil to toast the bread pieces and to make the dressing.
- Red wine vinegar: It has a milder taste compared to apple cider or white vinegar and adds a subtle acidity to the salad.
- Dijon mustard: To add more flavor to the dressing, add a little bit of dijon mustard.
How To Make Panzanella Salad
- Prepare the bread: Tear the bread with your hands into bite size pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toast the bread in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until toasted around the edges but still chewy in the middle.
- Prepare the vegetables: Slice the tomatoes into chunks and place them in a large bowl. Thinly slice the red onion and add it to the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble the salad: Add the toasted bread to the tomatoes and onions and give it a good toss. In a small bowl mix the olive oil with red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and garlic. Drizzle over the salad and mix well.
- Plate and serve: Let the salad sit for 15 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter and top with fresh basil leaves.
Tips To Make The Best Panzanella
- Toast the bread: This might seem like a simple step, but it's a crucial one. Toasting the bread helps absorbing the dressing and the tomato juice without making it soggy.
- Taste: Try the salad prior to serving to make sure it has enough salt and pepper.
- Let it sit: Wait about 15 minutes before you serve panzanella for the bread to absorb the dressing and the tomato juice.
Like many other recipes, panzanella can be made using a variety of ingredients. You can add bell peppers, cucumbers, radishes, pickled red onions, avocados or olives to the salad. To add a bit of summer sweetness, you can use sliced peaches or nectarines. Other additions are mozzarella balls or grilled chicken.
You can serve panzanella as part of a summer meal with some grilled spatchcock chicken, whole grilled branzino or shrimp skewers. This salad also goes well with dishes such as Italian meatballs or caprese chicken.
Panzanella is best enjoyed 15 to 30 minutes after the dressing is added when the bread is flavored but still crispy around the edges. If you don't mind the bread being a bit soggy, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can prepare and toast the bread, prepare the dressing and slice the vegetables in advance. However, it's best to combine all the ingredients and the dressing 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
The name panzanella was mentioned by the famous Italian poet Bronzino and it's made of two words: "pane" meaning bread and "zanella" meaning a deep plate, probably referring to the serving platter used to serve this salad.
More Summer Salad Recipes
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Panzanella (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad)
- 4 cups rustic bread ciabatta or sourdough
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ lbs tomatoes cut into pieces
- ½ red onion sliced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Tear the bread into bite size pieces and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until it's crispy on the edges.
- Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and add in the onions. Season with salt and pepper and give it a good toss.
- Add the toasted bread to the tomatoes and onions and give it a gentle toss.
- In a small bowl mix the olive oil with red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and garlic. Drizzle over the salad and mix well.
- Let the salad sit for 15 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter and top with fresh basil leaves.