Panzanella Salad – Tomato and Bread Salad

Panzanella, also known as panmolle, is a classic Italian salad made with salad vegetables and bread. It’s traditionally prepared using stale bread that is rehydrated in a tomato juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil dressing. There are lots of different variations to a panzanella salad recipe. If you’re looking for backyard picnic party ideas, this rustic Tuscan salad will really hit the spot. 

Overhead view of a large bowl of Italian panzanella salad.

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Tuscany, Italy, is home to some incredible dishes, and this tomato and bread salad is a perfect example. It is absolutely delicious! The juicy tomatoes, toasted bread, cheese, herbs, and garlic are just some of the delights in this Italian bread salad.

If you’re looking for vegetable dishes, you might also want to try maple roasted rainbow carrots, roasted beet salad or any of these mouthwatering recipes with corn.

A bowl of a classic Italian panzanella salad made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, cheese, fresh herbs, and bread.

Why You’ll Love Panzanella Salad

Unusual:  This isn’t your average summer tomato salad. Your garlic, shallot, extra tomatoes and stale bread will come together in a wonderful flavour harmony you never imagined. Seriously, if you’ve never tried a panzanella recipe, prepare to be wowed. Caprese salad is always nice, but this bread and tomato salad is just so distinctively different – it’s well worth making for a change.
Straightforward to make:  You toast the bread cubes, prep the veggies and eventually toss everything together to make the most amazing classic panzanella salad.
Great for any occasion:  A hearty Italian bread salad is a great way to impress everyone, whether you’re catering a backyard BBQ or bringing a dish to a potluck supper. It’s a Tuscan style treat that everyone will love.

A wood sppon scooping a classic Italian panzanella salad from a bowl.

Panzanella Salad Recipe Ingredients

You will need a loaf of crusty bread, perhaps sourdough bread, for this classic Tuscan bread salad. In addition, you’ll need heirloom tomatoes (vine ripened tomatoes have the best flavour), a green tomato, kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, shallot, red wine vinegar, fresh basil, oregano, crisp cucumber (English cucumber is the traditional choice), tangy red onions, fresh mozzarella (or bocconcini), and parmesan. If it’s tomato season and you have too many tomatoes, you might also enjoy homemade tomato soup.

Ingredients to make a classic Italian panzanella salad made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, cheese, fresh herbs, and bread.

How to Make a Panzanella Salad Recipe

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Prepare the tomatoes:  Chop your tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt, and let them sit in a colander so the salt can draw out the juices.
Prepare the homemade croutons:  Brush olive oil over the fresh bread and add garlic and shallot before baking it until golden brown, then cut it into cubes. Homemade croutons are a great way to use up bread if you just learned how to make a sourdough starter.
Assemble the salad:  Mix the tomato juice with the shallot vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil, fresh basil, mozzarella, then toss with all the other ingredients and serve the panzanella, topped with parmesan.

Heirloom tomatoes and a green tomato sliced in a colander.
Overhead view of a large bowl of Italian panzanella salad.

Substitutions and Variations

There are many authentic panzanella recipes since every Italian home has its preferred version of this Tuscan dish. Capers and anchovies often make an appearance, and one of the main ingredients, the juicy ripe tomatoes, is sometimes swapped for watermelon.  Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes could also be used.

Close view of a Tuscan panzanella salad.

Another take on panzanella is to swap the tomatoes for strawberries and then use a balsamic dressing. A third option is to use avocados and extra cucumber and make a Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar dressing. 

A panzanella salad served in a bowl.

You can try different breads like whole wheat sourdough bread. As you can see, this salad can be made in a wide variety of ways. Feel free to throw in anything else you want, like yellow bell pepper, red bell peppers, or anything else you like.

What to Serve with this Tomato and Bread Salad

This classic Italian salad is typically a dish comprised of hearty bread, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil (Italian, of course!), and various salad veggies, along with aromatic fresh herbs. It’s a vegetarian dish, but you might like to pair it with grilled chicken breast, Greek sheet pan chicken, creamy Tuscan chicken, this crab boil recipe, your favorite kind of steak (try a Tomahawk!), or even some fat, juicy shrimp or pork. It goes with any protein if you want a main course, or you can serve it by itself in a large bowl as part of a buffet with other salads such as Italian Rice Salad, Garden Veggie Macaroni Salad, or Sweet Potato Kale Salad.

Pouring the dressing on the panzanella salad.

Storage Instructions

Store: A panzanella recipe is best served as soon as it’s ready. You can refrigerate it for a day, but the tomatoes will lose their flavour, and the bread will get soggy.
Freeze: This isn’t a recipe you can freeze. It’s best served as fresh as possible, like many other Italian recipes.

Overhead view of a large bowl of a Tuscan panzanella salad made with tomatos and bread.

Panzanella Recipe FAQs

What kind of bread works best in panzanella?

For this tomato bread salad, you should opt for bread that is firm enough to hold its form while tossed with the tomato dressing but not something that’s too stale to chew. The most popular choice is Tuscan bread, because the dense texture holds up well in panzanella and it isn’t salted so you won’t have an overwhelming salt flavour in the finished salad. If you can’t get Tuscan bread, choose anything you want so long as it’s not too crusty or too soft. 

What’s the history of panzanella?

This authentic Italian panzanella salad recipe isn’t just a way to use up all the tomatoes in tomato season. Although any excuse to make it works! In fact, rustic bread salad goes back to the 16th century and was a way to use up stale bread. Originating as a peasant dish, panzanella, or panmolle, was a mixture of stale bread cubes, tomatoes and onions, vinegar, and olive oil. 

It’s still a great recipe if you have stale bread to use up but it’s so good it’s well worth making just because the combination of ingredients is so very special. This might well become one of your favourite side salads.

A spoon scooping some Tuscan panzanella salad from a bowl.

Panzanella Salad Recipe

A bowl of colorful Classic Italian Tomato and Bread Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, croutons, and shaved cheese, accompanied by salad utensils and ingredients on a table.

Panzanella Salad – Tomato and Bread Salad

5 from 48 votes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: vegetarian
Prep Time: 14 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 189kcal
Author: Bella Bucchiotti
An Italian panzanella salad is a rustic blend of tomatoes, bread, and other salad vegetables. It's a delicious summer salad recipe.
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Ingredients

  • 3 Heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 tomato green
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Loaf Italian bread
  • 6 Cloves garlic minced divided
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 20 Leaves basil fresh
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon pepper fresh cracked
  • 1 Teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 4 Ounces mozzarella cubed
  • parmesan Shaved, as garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Chop up the tomatoes and put them into a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle the tomatoes with 1 Tablespoon salt, stir to assure each piece gets salted, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  • Finely mince garlic and shallot and divide in half.
  • Slice bread in half and brush each cut side with olive oil. Sprinkle minced garlic and shallot over the top and place into the oven for 10 minutes to toast.
  • Slice the bread into bite sized pieces.
  • Combine tomato juice with garlic, shallot vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, olive oil, mozzarella and basil and toss. Top with parmesan.
  • Placing the cut tomatoes into a colander will allow excess liquid to drip into the bowl below. The tomato juice will be used in the dressing.
  • The salt sprinkled onto the tomatoes helps them to dry out faster
  • You can use stale bread, but using fresh bread and toasting it more fresh tasting

Nutrition

Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 2014mg | Potassium: 415mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1132IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 1mg
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The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Panzanella is a tasty Italian salad made with juicy tomatoes, bread, garlic, salad vegetables, olive oil, and more. This Italian salad with bread pairs with any protein and is also nice for a buffet, BBQ or potluck dinner. So, if you love Italian food, especially juicy tomatoes, you must try homemade panzanella.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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Recipe Rating




  1. Sara Layton wrote:

    5 stars
    This is our favorite salad recipe!

    Posted 5.13.23 Reply
  2. Hayleigh wrote:

    5 stars
    I always end up buying too much bread. What can I say, it just smells so good in the bakery! Anyway once it loses its freshness it’s perfect for this recipe!

    Posted 10.24.23 Reply
  3. Allison Hughes wrote:

    5 stars
    My favorite salad. Love every ingredient on this!

    Posted 3.28.24 Reply
  4. Jamie O'Connor wrote:

    5 stars
    I love Italian flavors and this salad really hits the spot.

    Posted 4.1.24 Reply