Panzanella Salad is the perfect meal on sweltering summer days. Tangy, light, and bursting with fresh herbal tones, this salad is loaded with summer veggies, creamy mozzarella, and ciabatta bread all tossed in a delicious balsamic vinaigrette.
This bread salad is a great appetizer, a beautiful fresh lunch dish or the perfect side dish next to practically any of your favorite grilling recipes!
A Perfect Tuscan Bread Salad
I love the flavors in a good fresh Italian Salad. I often combine the same flavors with pasta to create a crowd pleasing Italian Pasta Salad for bbqs and potlucks or bread to enjoy the perfect Panzanella Salad!
What is Panzanella? Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad, usually dressed with a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. Traditionally, it was made with cubes of stale bread.
- Bread: I use a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread torn into pieces and oven dried. You can use leftover bread loaves or even homemade croutons, if that’s what you have on hand.
- Veggies: Juicy ripe tomatoes (cherry or grape tomatoes are best), crisp cucumbers, plenty of fresh basil and oregano.
- Bold Flavors: creamy mozzarella cheese, and red onions & olives.
- Dressing: A simple mixture of balsamic and olive oil is all you need. You can use flavored oils, balsamic glaze, or even red wine vinegar.
- Additional Options: Capers, sliced radishes or shredded romaine are great options.
How to Make Panzanella
This panzanella salad recipe is super simple to prepare. I try to choose a variety of colors of tomatoes, you can get them at most supermarkets. Just follow these steps for this delightful summer salad:
- Tear ciabatta bread into bite sized pieces and toss with olive oil to coat, then bake until slightly dried.
- In a separate bowl or decanter, prepare the dressing by mixing balsamic vinegar with olive oil
- Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with dressing. Gently toss.
Try a Greek Version: For this variation, use crumbled feta cheese instead of mozzarella, add in bell peppers and use red wine vinegar instead of balsamic.
What to Serve with Panzanella
Panzanella bread salad is perfect for picnics or dining al fresco. Try pairing it with sausage and peppers or serve it with any marinated and flame-roasted meat, such as grilled chicken breasts or beef kabobs.
Side Salads Perfect for Summer:
- Caprese Salad – An Italian classic.
- Broccoli Salad – make the night ahead for the best flavor!
- Strawberry Spinach Salad – Fresh and delicious!
- The Best Tossed Salad – healthy and refreshing.
- Cucumber Onion Salad – crunchy and delicious.
- Fresh Summer Fruit Salad – colorful juicy fresh fruits!
- 6 cups ciabatta bread torn into pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb tomatoes
- 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs basil, oregano and/or parsley
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cocktail sized
- 1 cup cucumbers sliced
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place bread in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt & pepper.
- Bake until lightly browned and dried, 10-12 minutes. Cool.
- Whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing.
- Gently toss and let sit 15 minutes tossing occasionally.
- Top with herbs and fresh pepper. Serve.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)