Panzanella salad is made with crusty bread, fresh tomatoes, bright onion, and fragrant basil. It’s a fresh and satisfying tomato and bread salad that you’ll be enjoying for a light lunch, or serve at a picnic or potluck!
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It’s not officially summer until you’ve enjoyed a good panzanella salad.
Salads are one of my favorite things to make lately because they’re so easily customizable. This panzanella salad recipe fits right in with it’s simple ingredient list.
What is panzanella salad?
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad. Stale bread is soaked in a combination of olive oil and vinegar and tossed with chopped tomatoes, onions, and occasionally other ingredients.
It’s really a lovely combination of flavors, and perfect as a light summer lunch or side dish. I love using up vegetables and herbs from my garden, or grabbing them at the farmer’s market for the ultimate summer experience.
It’s really best if you can grab a bite with a little bit of everything for the best flavor and texture!
- Italian bread
- Roma tomatoes
- Red onion
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
How to make panzanella
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. That’s it! So easy.
Top tips and questions
Is this an authentic panzanella salad recipe?
While I believe this is fairly close to what you would find in a traditional panzanella salad, I have not visited Italy or studied Italian cooking. Even when looking for an authentic recipe, you will find a lot of variations.
Traditionally, the bread in this recipe is soaked in water before being wrung out, then used to soak up all the oil, vinegar, and tomato juices. I find that it’s ok to skip the water soak as long as you let the salad rest for a while after mixing.
Can I use any kind of bread for panzanella salad?
Day old, crusty Italian bread is going to give you the best result in this tomato bread salad. The stale bread soaks up the oil and vinegar without getting too soggy.
If you don’t have Italian bread, you could use another crusty, day old bread. I would not recommend using soft sandwich bread since it would fall apart.
Do I need to remove the seeds from the tomatoes?
I always remove the seeds from my roma tomatoes. It is usually very easy to do, just slice the tomatoes in half, then use your fingers to scoop out the middle.
If you prefer a juicer salad or just like the seeds, feel free to leave them in when cutting your tomato.
Tips for customizing
- Add diced cucumbers, sliced peaches, corn, or whatever other summer favorites you have on hand
- Swap the roma tomatoes for heirloom or cherry tomatoes
- Add your favorite protein such as canned or roasted garbanzo beans, chicken, or salmon
- Whisk the olive oil and red wine vinegar with a bit of dijon mustard before adding to the salad
- Dry out the bread cubes in a low temperature oven before combining everything if your bread is too soft
What to serve with panzanella salad
More salad recipes
- Rainbow Quinoa Salad
- Southwest Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- BBQ Chickpea Salad
- Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad
- Israeli Couscous Salad
- Vegan Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Tofu
- Vegan Orzo Pasta Salad
- Vegan Potluck Barley Salad
- ½ pound good quality day old crusty Italian bread, cubed
- 4 small roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.