Tomato Panzanella Salad – Crispy bread is tossed with a homemade vinaigrette, tomatoes, red onion, basil, and cucumber to make a delicious and refreshing summer salad.
I cannot believe we’re almost to July. How insane is that?! I feel like summer is slipping away and I didn’t get enough time to soak up the incredible produce it has to offer.
Which brings me to today’s recipe. It is loaded with fresh veggies and makes for a super refreshing snack/salad/side dish that you can enjoy all the way until the first pumpkin pops up this fall. And it also marks the last recipe we have for the summer before Ice Cream Month starts on July 1st!
For today’s recipe, I wanted to make something I’ve had on my bucket list for a long time but just hadn’t tried out for myself. It’s a Tomato Panzanella Salad and it’s incredible. Before I give too much away, let’s take a look at it!
What is a panzanella salad?
A panzanella is an Italian salad characterized by having toasted bread tossed with a dressing and various vegetables. I like to think of it as bruschetta but in a salad form. It’s super common in the summer when tomatoes are at their ripest.
How is panzanella made?
Panzanella is a great way to use up leftover bread. In fact, that was a main reason for its invention. The stale bread is tossed with a vinaigrette that helps soften it a bit and give it tons of flavor. In addition, the vegetables release their nature juices to help out the bread, too.
If you don’t have stale bread on hand, you’ll definitely want to toast up some fresh bread with some olive oil. I typically don’t have “leftover” bread so I toasted mine for this recipe. I find it easiest to toast bread in the oven. Just toss it around a a few times to make sure it toasts evenly.
Once the bread is toasted, it gets tossed in a homemade vinaigrette. It’s super simple to mix together. Just whisk oil, vinegar, honey, and garlic together and then season with a little salt and pepper. That’s all there is to it! You don’t need a complicated vinaigrette to bring out the flavors in this salad.
Assembling the salad
Finally, the bread is tossed with the veggies and topped with fresh basil. I let the salad sit for 30 minutes to an hour to let the flavors some together and soften the bread a bit. The key is to bite into chewy bread, not crunchy pieces.
Tips & Tricks
- Make sure you toast the bread until firm. This will ensure it soaks up all the dressing without getting soggy.
- English cucumber is unique because the seeds are tiny and the skin is thin. If you don’t have access to it, make sure you scoop out the seeds from the normal cucumber and peel off the skin.
- This salad is best made no more than 24 hours before serving. The tomatoes and onions start to wilt a little when sitting longer than that. They’ll still taste great but the look won’t be optimal.
Tomato Panzanella Salad
For the salad:
- 1 10-ounce baguette diced into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ English cucumber diced
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 1 handful fresh basil sliced
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic minced
- salt and pepper
For the salad:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cubed bread with ¼ cup of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Place onto baking sheet.
- Once oven is preheated, place sheet into oven to bake for 6 minutes. Remove pan and then toss the bread around and bake for another 6 minutes or until the bread has toasted and turned golden brown. Remove from oven and turn oven off.
- Toss the bread in the dressing (recipe below). Add halved tomatoes, diced cucumber, and diced onion. Toss together. Top with sliced basil. Let salad sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour to help the bread absorb the dressing. Serve within 24 hours for optimal freshness.
For the salad dressing:
- Whisk ingredients together until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to give the dressing a taste before using. Adjust as needed.