This colorful Panzanella Salad has tomatoes, peppers, onion and cucumbers to give it loads of flavor, crunch and color. The bread is toasted then soaks up the garlic dressing and tomato juices which make it better and better as it sits. Perfect for summer potlucks and events!

Closeup overhead of panzanella salad

I originally shared this recipe on July 3rd, 2018. I have updated the post to share it with you again today.

My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th year together this September and next month will be our 15th wedding anniversary! It’s crazy to think I met him in 1998, and now it’s been 20 years! Where does the time go?

Even though it was 15 years ago when we tied the knot, I always think of our wedding when I make panzanella because it was one of the dishes that was served at our wedding. I love it that much. Yeah- no prime rib and potatoes for this foodie!

There is something truly sublime about the soggy- yet still crusty along the edges- bread. Folks, if you haven’t yet read my diatribe about good soggy then you may not know what I mean when I say it’s good soggy. But it is and I am in love! The bread is crisped first in the oven, then it’s soaked in the tomato juices and garlicky dressing.

That’s what makes it so great for a potluck or picnic in the summer- it just gets better and better as it sits! Or a wedding. Just sayin’…

side view of panzanella in a wooden bowl

 

What is Panzanella Salad?

Panzanella is Italian bread salad made with fresh chopped tomatoes and day old toasted or stale bread. Many traditional Tuscan recipes start with soaking the bread in water and then ringing it out. They are then tossed with the tomatoes and dressing (always made with extra-virgin olive oil and often garlic.) 

A lot of Americanized versions of the recipe (including this one) don’t include soaking the bread and wringing it out. I never thought that made much sense, since there is so much moisture from the tomatoes! 

Tuscan Bread

Tuscan Italian recipes are known for creative (and delicious) ways of using up stale bread. From Ribollita (one of my favorite Tuscan soups) to Papa al Pomodoro (another bread thickened soup- made with tomatoes.) That’s because Tuscan bread is made without salt, and it goes stale quickly. 

Funny story about Tuscan bread- I did my junior year in Florence, and the day we landed and moved into our apartments, I bought myself some olive oil and a loaf of bread. I’ll never forget how surprised I was to discover that the bread was unsalted!

I later learned that traditional Tuscan bread isn’t salted (probably a holdover from the Middle Ages.) You can buy it with salt, but you have to ask for it salted. 

OVerhead view of a table with tomatoes, a serving bowl of panzanella and a single serving in a small wooden bowl

 

How To Make Panzanella Salad

  • This Rainbow hued version is so much more! It has peppers, onion and cucumbers to give it loads of flavor, crunch and color.
  • The bread is toasted then soaks up the garlic dressing and tomato juices which make it better and better as it sits. Perfect for summer potlucks and events!
  • In this panzanella, there’s also all sorts of other colorful veggies tossed in. Since all my favorite veggies are bursting out of the garden right now, cucumbers, peppers and onions– I added in as many colors as I possibly could. It’s like eating a rainbow! 
  • Also basil and olives pep this panzanella up even more- because when it comes to panzanella- more delicious Italian flavor is always more right!

Overhead of a teal bowl filled with panzanella

Can you Make Panzanella in Advance? 

You can make this recipe two to four hours ahead. But the texture of the tomatoes will start to soften up a lot after that.

To Prepare this Panzanella One Day in Advance:

  1. The best way to do that is to toast the bread and keep it out on a sheet pan, loosely covered with foil.
  2. Then chop up the veggies (except the tomatoes) and keep them in a glass container in the fridge. 
  3. Mix the dressing and put it in a jar in the fridge. 
  4. Up to four hours before serving, toss the bread, tomatoes and dressing together, and let soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Then add in the remaining ingredients. 

 

Steps To Make Panzanella Salad

What To Serve With Panzanella Salad

  • Most of my summertime dinners involve the grill in some form or another. I make My Favorite Garlic Marinade for chicken, beef or seafood several times a summer.  
  • This Grilled Zucchini with balsamic would be another great vegetarian dish to serve.
  • We have been loving this Rosemary Garlic Grilled Pork Tenderloin lately. The flavors in this panzanella would be a nice compliment to it. 
  • If you’re serving a crowd for a summer party you could make this Italian Pasta Salad too. 
  • Last week we had it with a fried egg on top. Plain and simple! 

 

Thanks so much for reading! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! 

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

Print
close-up of panzanella

Panzanella Salad

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 side dishes or 6 entree servings 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This colorful Panzanella Salad has tomatoes, peppers, onion and cucumbers to give it loads of flavor, crunch and color. The bread is toasted then soaks up the garlic dressing and tomato juices which make it better and better as it sits. Perfect for summer potlucks and events!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces crusty Italian bread, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large ripe red tomato, cored and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 large ripe yellow tomato, cored and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into bite sized squares
  • 1 purple or green bell pepper, cut into bite sized squares
  • ½ red onion, root removed, peeled and sliced from stem end to root end
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small bite-sized chunks
  • ½ cup sliced pitted olives

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread bread out on a large baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until crispy and starting to brown, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in basil.
  4. Add the hot croutons and red and yellow tomato to the dressing, and toss to coat. Let sit, tossing occasionally until the bread has absorbed the dressing and tomato juices, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in red and purple peppers, onion, cucumber and olives. Serve immediately or at room temperature within two hours. If not serving within two hours, cover and refrigerate.

Notes

To Make Ahead One Day In Advance:

  1. The best way to do that is to toast the bread and keep it out on a sheet pan, loosely covered with foil.
  2. Then chop up the veggies (except the tomatoes) and keep them in a glass container in the fridge.
  3. Mix the dressing and put it in a jar in the fridge.
  4. Up to four hours before serving, toss the bread, tomatoes and dressing together, and let soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Then add in the remaining ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 189 cals
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 3 g

panzanella salad in a large bowl overhead withtext overlay

Panzanella Salad