Panzanella (Italian Bread and Tomato Salad)

This salad is full of robust flavor and texture—built from the seasonal bounty of summer.  There is ample opportunity to improvise, too. Try adding or substituting any of the following: roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, celery, fennel, fresh herbs like parsley or chives, arugula, green beans, garbanzo beans, feta or fresh mozzarella cubes. Use your imagination—fueled by pantry, fridge and garden surplus.

In winter, turn the salad on it’s head and substitute juicy oranges for the tomatoes and add earthy beets and winter greens.  The common element between the salads is a versatile blank canvas embraced in Italian kitchens—AKA stale bread—that ably soaks up any flavorful juice.


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups fresh tomato, cubed
  • 1 cup drained, rinsed canned cannellini beans
  • 1 cup cubed Persian cucumber
  • 1 cup cubed red and yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, ripped or sliced in half
  • ½ – 1 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 cups leaf, romaine or arugula, torn into pieces
  • Day old baguette or rustic bread, when cut or torn into 1 inch cubes equally 3 cups
  • Extra olive oil for toasting bread
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil to coat. Lightly toast bread on all sides. Remove from oven and cool.
  2. To make dressing, put olive oil, vinegar and minced garlic into a small jar. Close lid and shake jar to mix.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and bread cubes and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15 minutes (or more) as needed so bread soaks up the tomato juices and dressing. The bread should be soft but not soggy when it is ready. Serve immediately.
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2 thoughts on “Panzanella (Italian Bread and Tomato Salad)

  1. This is one of my favorite salads. I could have this for dinner with nothing else anytime. Good tomatoes are a must.

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