Panzanella Salad is a classic Tuscan dish made with fresh vegetables (typically tomato and onion), soaked stale bread, and a tangy vinaigrette. I absolutely love this salad during the summer months when tomatoes, onions and other garden veggies are all in season.
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Tuscan cuisine is known for its rustic practicality and Panzanella certainly fits the bill. This salad is traditionally made with stale bread that’s been soaked in water (nothing goes to waste!), and a bounty of summer produce. I could just imagine myself enjoying a plate of Panzanella on a hot afternoon in the rolling Tuscan hills.
My version is made with cubes of fresh bread that have been toasted in the oven with olive oil and lemon zest. This helps dry out the bread, so it can soak up all the flavorful juices of the ripe vegetables and vinaigrette. Some bites have some crunch while others are soft and juicy.
This recipe is not traditional, but it’s 100% delicious. Continue reading for the recipe.
HOW TO MAKE PANZANELLA SALAD
To make Panzanella Salad, you start by cubing up 9 ounces of French or rustic bread, then tossing it with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. The cubed bread is then toasted in the oven until crispy on the outside and a little soft within.
The toasted bread is then tumbled into a large bowl along with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, roasted red peppers, red onion, basil and capers. The salad is tossed in a vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano and red chile flakes.
You can enjoy the salad right away or let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. As the salad sits, the toasted bread will soak up all of the juices in the bowl.
WHAT GOES WELL WITH PANZANELLA SALAD?
Panzanella is a versatile salad that pairs well with steak, chicken or fish. I like to enjoy this during the summer months with grilled chicken, hamburgers or a reverse seared steak.
As for a beverage pairing, try Panzanella with a crisp Pinot Grigio or chilled Vermentino.
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 9 ounces (6 cups) French bread or other rustic bread, cubed
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 roasted red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 20 large basil leaves (about 1/2 ounce), thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- To make the vinaigrette, place garlic, vinegar, oregano, sugar and chile flakes in a medium bowl along with a couple pinches of salt and a few turns of black pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes. Slow stream in olive oil while whisking to create an emulsified dressing. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Preheat an oven to 400°F. Place bread on a rimmed baking sheet, then toss with olive oil, lemon zest salt and a few turns of pepper. Bake, tossing occasionally, until crispy and golden on the outside but still chewy in the center (about 8 to10 minutes). Let cool.
- In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, roasted red peppers, onion, basil, and capers. Add the toasted bread and vinaigrette, tossing to combine. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately or let sit for 30 minutes before serving.