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Panzanella »Simple and Healthy Recipe! ✅

The Panzanella Salad is an Italian bread salad that traditionally uses stale bread, tomatoes, onions with a spicy vinaigrette and lots of fresh basil.

Panzanella bread salad in a white bowl on a marble background.

On hot summer days, I find myself craving cold, juicy salads that require little to no cooking. This Panzanella Salad uses the best summer produce and is a satisfying light meal on a warm summer afternoon. It’s also a wonderful side dish for a picnic or barbecue.

A beautiful rainbow of Panzanella salad ingredients: bread, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, basil, red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper.

What is Panzanella made of?

Panzanella is traditionally made with stale bread and tomatoes, along with other ingredients such as cucumbers, basil, bell peppers, and onions. In this recipe I used:

  • ciabatta bread
  • ancient tomatoes
  • english cucumber
  • yellow pepper
  • Red onion
  • fresh basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Old fashioned diced tomatoes drained in a colander

What is the best bread for Panzanella?

Ina Garten says she uses French bread and Marcella Hazen just says she uses good, firm bread. I decided to use the power strip and it was wonderful. Whatever bread you use, make sure it’s a good crusty bread. French bread, Apulian bread, or even sourdough bread are all options.

Stale bread or toast?

Panzanella is a salad that traditionally uses stale bread, no doubt it was originally designed to consume stale bread instead of letting it go to waste. However, I have found that using fresh bread toasted in the oven will give better results than using stale bread. This is the same method I use to make the Thanksgiving stuffing.

I cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, drizzled them with olive oil, and toasted them in the oven at 150 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette

Serious Eats recommends using leftover tomato juice in the dressing, and it’s a great idea. It really brings out that tomato flavor. You should have about 1/2 cup of juice. If you have a lot more, you may want to save it for another use or you will have too much liquid in the vinaigrette.

Along with the tomato juice you will also need:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Is panzanella good the next day?

Panzanella is really best the day it’s made. The bread will continue to soften and absorb liquids, so it may be too soggy the next day. That said, my (bread loving) husband had no problem eating the leftovers the next day! If he’s making this for a party or to serve guests, I recommend making it the same day it’s served, preferably within a few hours.

How are panzanella leftovers preserved?

As mentioned above, Panzanella should be served the same day it is prepared. But if you have leftovers, you can store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Keep in mind that the bread will start to soften, so it’s best eaten within a few hours of making it.

Panzanella salad in a large wooden salad bowl

What to serve with Panzanella

Panzanella is substantial enough to make a light meal on its own, especially if you add fresh mozzarella or burrata. However, it would also be an excellent accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.

Panzanella bread salad in white bowl on marble counter

More Summer Salad Recipes


Course: Salads

Italian cuisine

Keyword: panzanella, salad

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Break time: 30 minutes

Servings: 8 Servings

Calories: 290kcal

  • 2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning, use half the amount if using regular table salt
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 English cucumber cut in half and cut into half moons
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
  • 12 ounces ciabatta bread cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup drained tomato juice
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Place the chopped tomatoes in a strainer over a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt (if using regular table salt, use half that amount). Pull to cover. Reserve at room temperature to drain for at least 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, season bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.

  • Remove the strainer with the tomatoes from the bowl. Measure the tomato juice. You can strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pulp if you like.

  • Add garlic, mustard, and vinegar to a bowl with about 1/2 cup tomato juice in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle with 1/2 cup of the remaining olive oil. Season the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

  • In the same bowl with the dressing, add the tomatoes, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, red onion, and basil. Add the bread cubes and mix until everything is covered with the sauce. Taste before seasoning, season with salt and pepper only if needed. Let the salad sit for about half an hour for the flavors to meld.

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 290kcal | Carbs: 28g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated fat: 2g | Monounsaturated fat: 13g | Sodium: 802mg | Potassium: 415mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1310 IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutritional information is an estimate for your convenience. If you have strict nutritional requirements, please do your due diligence to ensure this recipe meets your needs.

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