Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad is a classic Italian bread salad with big chunks of crisp veggies, cheese, chunks of dried bread and a tangy Vinaigrette dressing. It is a light and filling meal or a hearty side dish.

white plate, chunks of bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumber and parmesan cheese, wooden spoon

Salads are a thing around here. My kids love them so much they’ve been known to eat them for breakfast! We always have a big bowl of my Garden Salad ready to go. Add some leftover chicken and Homemade Croutons and they are in heaven!

My new favorite salad is Panzanella. It’s a Tuscan vegetable and bread salad commonly made with tomatoes, onions and stale chunks of bread. Sometimes other veggies, like cucumbers, olives, and cheese are included. It’s kind of like making a salad with the croutons as the main event and I’m totally down for that!

How to Make a Panzanella Salad

  1. I recommend drying the bread out in the oven rather than just using stale bread, although either will work. Cut or tear a loaf of french bread into chunks and toss them with olive oil and salt. Bake at 275 for 20 minutes, or until they are slightly crunchy. You want them to be easy to chew and not too hard.
  2. While the bread is baking, wash and cut up all the veggies. I like cucumbers, tomatoes and onions in my panzanella. You can use any kind of tomatoes that you love. Sometimes I’ll use a mix of heirloom and grape tomatoes for different layers of flavor. I also will toss in some briny olives and fresh basil.
  3. Whisk together the vinaigrette dressing. If you have a favorite bottled vinaigrette or Italian dressing you could use that too. I prefer homemade dressings because they’re really easy to make and taste a lot better than bottled.
  4. Toss everything together and garnish with black pepper and fresh Parmesan shavings. The cheese is optional and could be omitted or replaced with Mozzarella if you like.

wood cutting board with tomatoes, peppers, olives, cucumbers, basil and bread

Panzanella Salad Recipe Tips

  • For the best flavor, let the salad sit for 15-20 minutes so the bread can soak up the dressing a little bit. Don’t let it sit too long or the bread will get soggy.
  • Only dress as much salad as you plan to eat right away. If you have leftover panzanella, the veggies and bread will be fine the next day, but only if undressed. Store the leftovers in an airtight container. Store extra dressing in a separate container. The salad will be good for a day, the dressing for a week or more.
  • Cut all of the veggies into a uniform bite-size for easier eating.
  • To make this salad a meal, add some protein like canned tuna, steak or baked chicken leftovers.

close up of bread salad with tomatoes and cucumber and olives

More Yummy Salads to Love

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a white bowl with bread and vegetables salad, wooden spoons, basil.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella is a classic Italian bread salad with crisp veggies, cheese, chunks of dried bread and a tangy Vinaigrette dressing for a light and filling meal.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 428kcal

Ingredients
  

Bread

  • 1 loaf French Bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt

Salad

  • 1 English cucumber cut in half lengthwise then sliced.
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 3 heirloom or other larger tomatoes seeded and cut into bite-sized wedges
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 4 ounces whole or sliced black olives drained
  • 1/2 cup of fresh torn basil leaves or more to taste
  • ¼ cup Fresh Parmesan cheese shavings

Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Cut the french bread into 1-inch cubes and arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat, then sprinkle evenly with a teaspoon of salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until bread is crisp but not hard. Set aside to cool.
  • Toss tomatoes, onions, cucumber, olives, basil and parmesan in a large bowl.
  • Combine dressing ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until emulsified (oil and vinegar are fully combined); about 1 minute.
  • Add bread to the bowl with the vegetables and toss everything with the dressing until well coated. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Garnish with fresh Parmesan shavings and fresh cracked black to serve.

Notes

  • For the bread, I recommend drying it yourself. Stale bread can be used but is more likely to absorb the dressing and become soggy. 
  • For the best flavor, let the salad sit for 15-20 minutes so the bread can soak up the dressing a little bit. Don't let it sit too long or the bread will get soggy. 
  • Only dress as much salad as you plan to eat right away. Store leftover salad and dressing separately in airtight containers. 
  • To make this salad a meal, add some protein like canned tuna, steak or baked chicken leftovers. 

Nutrition

Calories: 428kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 11gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 718mgPotassium: 531mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1434IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 120mgIron: 3mg
Keyword panzanella

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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