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Full of fresh juicy tomatoes and basil, panzanella salad is a wonderful way to celebrate summer. This easy bread salad is perfect for entertaining or a light lunch.
Salads are the perfect thing to eat in the summertime. They’re so refreshing and full of vibrant flavor — I just can’t get enough!
This simple bread salad, also known as panzanella, is one of my favorites. Toasty bread cubes are mixed with fresh tomatoes, onion and basil and tossed with a tangy vinaigrette.
It’s not a surprise, considering how much I love croutons!
This easy panzanella recipe is ideal for bringing to the neighborhood cookout, a family potluck, or just enjoying at home. One taste and you’ll see why it is so popular.
Tomatoes – Fresh summer tomatoes were made for recipes like this! Use firm ripe tomatoes of your favorite variety. Heirloom tomatoes are a wonderful option.
Rustic bread – A crusty bread such as an Italian boule or sourdough is ideal for panzanella salad. It’s a great way to use up stale bread!
Basil – Fresh basil adds tons of flavor and pairs beautifully with tomatoes. If you are using basil from your own garden, make sure the leaves are not bitter.
Red onion – For a little bit of spicy bite that balances the sweet tomatoes, I add plenty of sliced red onion. You can chop it small if you prefer, but don’t skip it!
Vinaigrette – This recipe uses a homemade vinaigrette, but you can swap in your favorite bottled vinaigrette dressing if you prefer.
How to make panzanella
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
While the oven is heating, core and seed the tomatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let rest while you prepare the bread.
Take your bread and cut it into 1-inch cubes. You’ll need about 6 cups for this recipe.
Arrange the cubed bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes.
Cut the red onion into thin half-moon slices.
To cut the basil, stack leaves and roll into a log, then slice thinly.
Transfer the toasted bread croutons to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, reserving the juices in the bowl. Add the onion and basil.
To the bowl with the tomato juices, add the dressing ingredients: olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. If you like, add a bit of lemon juice. Whisk together until dressing is blended and emulsified.
Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Add remaining dressing to taste.
Let salad rest 30 minutes before serving, to allow dressing to be absorbed and flavors to meld.
If you like, you can add more to your panzanella salad recipe to make it even more of a meal.
Cheeses such as fresh mozzarella balls or torn pieces, feta cheese, or grated parmesan are all good options.
Add or swap the tomatoes for grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Make sure to half them so the juices are mixed into the salad.
Add diced fresh cucumber or bell peppers to give crunch and make the dish more veggie-forward.
Make it a hearty dinner by adding grilled chicken, diced salami, or torn prosciutto.
What to serve with panzanella salad
Bread salad is so good with nearly any meal!
Serve it alongside a grilled spread of steak, zucchini, and corn, reserving some of the salad dressing for the grilled veggies.
Have it alongside an antipasto platter with salami, cheese, and marinated vegetables.
Serve with fish like salmon kabobs or roasted cod.
Panzanella salad is best served the day it is made, as the bread will become more soft the longer it sits.
However, leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
Panzanella should not be frozen, as it will ruin the fresh texture and taste of the tomatoes, and make the overall dish too soggy once thawed.
This is the perfect summer salad when tomatoes are in season. It’s sure to be a favorite!
- 2 pounds tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided use
- 1 pound rustic bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Core and seed tomatoes. Chop into 1-inch chunks and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and let rest.
- Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until toasted. Let cool.
- Slice red onion into half or quarter moons.
- Slice basil by stacking the leaves and rolling into a log. Slice thinly.
- Transfer the toasted bread to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, reserving accumulated juices. Add the onion and basil to the bread.
- To make the dressing, strain seeds from tomato juices. Add olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk until blended and emulsified.
- Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Add remaining dressing to taste.
- Let rest 30 minutes before serving to let flavors meld.
- You will need about 6 cups of bread cubes for this recipe. Save any remaining cubes to use as croutons.