Panzanella Salad (Tuscan Bread Salad)

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Discover the classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette. The dressing is light, tangy, and flavorful, complementing the juicy tomatoes and fresh vegetables in the salad. Enjoy this delicious and easy-to-make salad all summer long.

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Panzanella Salad Recipe - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Why I love this salad

Tuscan bread salad, also known as panzanella salad, is a delicious and refreshing dish that is a staple of Italian cuisine. There are several reasons why I love this salad:

  1. Flavorful: The combination of juicy tomatoes, crunchy bread, and a tangy vinaigrette creates a harmonious blend of flavors that is both satisfying and delicious.
  2. Versatile: The salad can be adapted to include your favorite ingredients or what you have on hand, making it a great option for using up leftovers or incorporating seasonal produce.
  3. Easy to make: Panzanella salad is a simple dish that requires minimal preparation and cooking. It is a great option for a quick and satisfying meal on a hot summer day.
  4. Nutritious: The salad is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the vegetables and bread, making it a healthy and satisfying meal option.
  5. Perfect for summer: With its light, fresh flavors and crisp textures, panzanella salad is the perfect dish to enjoy on a warm summer day. It is a great option for picnics, barbecues, or as a side dish for a main meal.

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RELATED: Gluten Free Italian Asparagus Recipe

Panzanella Salad 14 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

The main ingredients needed to make panzanella salad are:

  1. Bread: Traditionally, a crusty bread such as ciabatta or country bread is used. The bread should be at least a day old, so it will have a firm texture that can absorb the dressing without falling apart.
  2. Tomatoes: Juicy, ripe tomatoes are a key component of the salad. Any variety of tomato can be used, but roma, beefsteak tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes are especially good.
  3. Fresh herbs: Fresh basil is added for extra flavor.
  4. Onions: Red onion adds a sharp, pungent flavor to the salad.
  5. Cucumber: English cucumber adds a cool, crisp texture to the salad.
  6. Dressing: A simple vinaigrette made from olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper is traditionally used to dress the salad.
  7. Cheese: A soft cheese such as mozzarella, feta, or bocconcini can be added for extra creaminess.
  8. Optional ingredients: You can add other ingredients to the salad, such as avocado, grilled vegetables, or cured meats, to make it a complete meal.
Panzanella Salad 1 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Be sure to check out the full ingredient list and printable recipe in the recipe card below.

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How do I make Tuscan Bread Salad?

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: In a large bowl, pour olive oil over the bread cubes. Toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper. Toss again.

Panzanella Salad 2 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Step 3: Transfer the bread to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until toasted and crunchy.

Panzanella Salad 5 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Step 4: In a large bowl, toss together the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, and basil.

Panzanella Salad 4 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.
Panzanella Salad 6 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

In a bowl or small jar, add the ingredients for the dressing and whisk or shake until blended.

Panzanella Salad 7 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Prior to serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Make this Tuscan Bread Salad, then check out my Roasted Asparagus Caesar Salad, Roasted Asparagus Caesar Salad, and Classic Waldorf Salad and more of my summer salad recipes.  

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TIPS AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Read on for tips and substitution ideas on how to make this recipe, such as what type of bread is best to use.

What type of bread is best to use?

For panzanella salad, it is traditional to use a dense, crusty bread such as french baguette, ciabatta or sourdough. The bread should be stale, which helps it absorb the dressing and retain its texture in the salad. However, you can also use other types of bread such as rustic bread. The important thing is that the bread is sturdy enough to hold up in the dressing, yet soft enough to absorb the flavors.

Can I use other vegetables besides tomatoes?

Yes, you can use other vegetables besides tomatoes in panzanella salad. Tomatoes are the most common ingredient, but many variations of the dish, such as this recipe, include other ingredients: cucumbers, red onion, or bell peppers. Some recipes even call for the addition of zucchini, fresh mozzarella or other cheeses. You can get creative with your panzanella salad and include your favorite ingredients or what you have on hand.

Panzanella Salad 30 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

What kind of dressing is traditionally used?

Traditionally, panzanella salad is dressed with a simple vinaigrette made from olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. This recipe also includes dijon mustard, however you can also add honey, or lemon juice.

The dressing is usually poured over the bread and vegetables and allowed to marinate for a few minutes before serving, allowing the flavors to blend and the bread to absorb the dressing. The dressing should be light, tangy, and flavorful, complementing the juicy tomatoes and fresh vegetables in the salad.

Can I add protein to make it a complete meal?

Yes, you can add protein to panzanella salad to make it a complete meal. Some common additions include grilled chicken, tofu, or cannellini beans. You can also add other protein sources such as boiled eggs, grilled shrimp, or cured meats such as prosciutto or salami. Adding protein to the salad will increase its nutritional value and help make it a more filling meal. However, keep in mind that the protein should complement the flavors of the salad and not overpower them.

Panzanella Salad 12 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

How do I make gluten-free panzanella salad?

To make gluten-free panzanella salad, you can use gluten-free bread or a gluten-free alternative such as gluten-free crackers or gluten-free croutons.

How do I make vegan panzanella salad?

To make the salad vegan, you can omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese substitute. The dressing can be made vegan by using a plant-based oil such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil instead of traditional olive oil, and by using a vegan vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

With these modifications, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying gluten-free and vegan panzanella salad.

Panzanella Salad 31 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Can I make panzanella salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can make panzanella salad ahead of time. However, it’s best to assemble the salad just before serving to prevent the bread from becoming too soggy. If you do need to make the salad in advance, you can prepare all the ingredients, including the dressing, and store them separately. Then, right before serving, you can combine the ingredients and let the salad marinate for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Keep in mind that the bread will continue to absorb the dressing as it sits, so you may need to add a little extra oil and vinegar to the salad just before serving to keep the balance of flavors.

How long will it last in the refrigerator?

Panzanella salad is best enjoyed on the day it is made, as the bread can become soggy if it sits in the dressing for too long. If you do have leftovers, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. However, the quality and texture of the bread will likely deteriorate over time, so it’s best to eat the salad as soon as possible. If you need to store the salad for longer, it’s best to store the ingredients separately and combine them just before serving.

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Panzanella Salad 24 - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

Other classic salad recipes to try

  • Classic Cobb Salad – the perfect hearty salad for dinner because it’s loaded with so much more than just lettuce – it’s got blue cheese, bacon, avocado, eggs, chicken, and onion. With a traditional cobb salad dressing, I love this classic cobb salad recipe, and you will too!
  • Classic Waldorf Salad – full of fresh, crispy, apples, celery, grapes and walnuts with a creamy mayonnaise dressing served over a bed of lettuce. Serve it as a side dish or appetizer at Christmas or Thanksgiving. 
  • Classic Marinated Carrot Salad (Copper Pennies) – This classic make-ahead salad can be served as either a side dish or a salad and is perfect for any occasion. This salad is a Christmas dinner tradition of ours, made with love every year by my mother-in-law.

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Panzanella Salad Recipe

Panzanella Salad Recipe

Yield: 12 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Also known as Tuscan Bread Salad, this is a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette. The dressing is light, tangy, and flavorful, complementing the juicy tomatoes and fresh vegetables in the salad. Enjoy this delicious and easy-to-make salad all summer long.

Ingredients

For the salad

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 cups cubed Italian or French bread
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 roma tomatoes, cut into quarters and sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, unpeeled, halved, and sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, pour olive oil over the bread cubes. Toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper. Toss again.
  3. Transfer the bread to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until toasted and crunchy.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, and basil.
  5. In a bowl or small jar, add the ingredients for the dressing and whisk or shake until blended.
  6. Prior to serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 576mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

The provided nutrition information is an estimate and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below or snap a pic and hashtag it #Salads4Lunch — I'd love to see all of your tasty creations on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Panzanella Salad scaled - Classic Italian dish of Panzanella Salad (aka Tuscan Bread Salad), a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.

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