Panzanella – Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

This bread salad, also known as panzanella, is super tasty, a great way to use up an abundance of sourdough or artisan bread and fresh tomatoes, basil and cucumbers from the garden.

panzanella colorful bread salad in bowl
Beautiful, colorful and oh so tasty.

Read: 11 Ways to Use Leftover Bread

A friend asked what this bread salad tastes like?  I said, imagine if you turned bruschetta into a salad – that’s what panzanella tastes like. That amazing combination of tomatoes and basil with Italian seasoning, garlic and onions tossed with toasted bread cubes.

Italian bread salad ingredients
Day old bread and fresh garden veggies make tasty bread salad.

Recipe for Bread Salad

panzanella colorful bread salad in bowl
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Panzanella - Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

A tasty way to enjoy day old bread and fresh garden produce. Toasted bread cubes with garden fresh vegetables and a tasty vinaigrette. This will become one of your favorite summer salads.
Prep : 25 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4-6 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4-5 slices thick bread 4 cups cubed
  • 1/4 cup oil or melted butter
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 long English cucumber diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper diced
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic pwdr
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 218°C/425°F.
  • In large bowl you plan to serve the salad in, mix diced tomatoes and salt. Let rest for 15 minutes to draw out liquid. Meanwhile prep other ingredients.
  • Cut bread into relatively even, 1/2 inch pieces and place in bowl. Mix oil or butter with Italian seasoning and toss with bread cubes, distribute well. Toss on baking sheet and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until outside is crunchy and getting golden. A nice crunchy outside will prevent bread from getting too soggy. Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Prepare vinaigrette by mixing all ingredients in a small measuring cup. Pour over tomatoes, mixing in with the tomato liquid.
  • Add cooled bread, cucumbers, peppers, onions and basil to tomatoes and vinaigrette. Toss well.
  • Let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving to soften croutons slightly and let flavors blend.

Notes

Other possible ingredients: black olives, capers, zucchini, grilled peaches, roasted peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella, Parmesan, Feta, goat cheese, chickpeas, cooked chicken, canned tuna, spinach, radicchio, arugula, etc.
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colorful bread salad

Top Tips for Making Bread Salad

  • Use thick, hearty artisan style bread that will hold the vinaigrette without going soggy. If you’re bread is quite dried out, you could skip toasting it.
  • Toasting the bread gives it a nice crunchy crust that will hold its shape and texture longer once tossed in the salad.
  • Use the freshest tastiest veggies you can find.
  • Don’t skimp on the herbs, spices and vinaigrette. That bread needs strong, bold flavor.
  • Enjoy as a full meal or as a side salad – especially great with something from the grill.
  • Salting the tomatoes causes them to release liquid which makes them a little sturdier and more flavorful. In this recipe, we mix the liquid with the vinaigrette to build a unique flavor that then coats the entire dish. You can make this dish without salting the tomatoes, but you’d be missing out! Here’s what Bonapetit says about salting tomatoes.

Other Ingredients To Add to Bread Salad

Some people have strict rules about what you can or cannot use to make bread salad. I say – whatever! Think about it; this salad was created by peasants who had to find a way to make stale bread taste good with what they had on hand – garden vegetables. Did they always have the same ingredients? Uh, no! Ingredients change with the season and where the cook lives. So go ahead, use this recipe as a starting point and add or subtract as you like based on what you have on hand.

Fruits & Veggies

Think of easy to chew veggies – nothing too hard or crunchy.

zucchini
grilled peaches
roasted peppers
canned artichokes
lightly steamed green beans or asparagus
mixed colored cherry tomatoes

Flavor Boosters

Olives
Capers

Cheese

Mozzarella
Parmesan
Bocconcini
Feta
Goat cheese

Protein

Chickpeas
Grilled chicken
Canned tuna
Grilled steak slices

Greens

Just a few greens to add color and texture, not enough to turn this into a regular salad. Use robust greens, sparingly.

Spinach
Arugula
Radicchio
Mizuna

By no means is this it! Add your favorites.

Will you give it a try? Or are you already a fan? If so – what are your favorite ingredients? Comment below or share your photos and ideas with me on instagram @getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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