My Favorite Panzanella Salad

In the summertime I cannot get enough of this salad! You can make it at other times of the year, but it is at it's finest when the juicy summer tomatoes and fresh basil are at their peak.

Panzanella or Panmolle originated in the Italian regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Tuscany. It is a refreshing salad consisting of day, or week-old bread, fresh tomatoes, vegetables, basil and tossed with vinaigrette.

In addition to the bread and tomatoes there is room for improvisation, you can allow your preferences be your guide and customize it to your liking.

One version I had at a restaurant in San Francisco contained tuna, carrots, celery, hard cooked eggs and white wine, tossed with wood-oven baked bread cubes.

Some like to include mint, parsley, lettuce or anchovies and in spring asparagus and peas might be included. Most authentic recipes instruct that the stale bread be dipped in cold water, then gently squeezed or patted to remove most of the moisture. I prefer to use a bread that is only a day old, so there is no need to dip in water.

Here is my favorite version ~

OUaP's Favorite Panzanella
Note: The actual proportions and ingredients are your choice; this is my guide.
Makes two very generous servings:

If serving two or three people I choose a small loaf of ciabatta, or French bread, and usually use ½ to 3/4 of the loaf. If I’m using the grill that day I slice the bread thickly, (I don’t bother trimming the crusts) drizzle the slices with olive oil and toast it on the grill, turning once so both sides of the bread slices are toasted. When the bread has cooled I cube it, then assemble the salad.

On days when grilling isn’t convenient I prepare the cubes using the same method that I use to make croutons for salads, cutting the cubes a bit larger (approximately 1-inch cubes).

Again, I don’t bother to trim the crusts. In a large saute or frying pan on the stove top heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat, then add the bread cubes in one layer, sprinkle them with a bit of Kosher salt and toss the bread cubes frequently so they will not burn. Add more oil as needed. Toast them to your liking, then remove from the pan to a large bowl and proceed with the recipes.

Note about the pan crisped croutons: If you are making a large salad it’s best to prepare the bread cubes in two or three batches.

In addition to the bread these are the ingredients these are the ingredients I use~

-2 to 4 vine ripe tomatoes (depending upon their size), cut into 1/2-inch dice. I don’t bother to peel the tomatoes, but you may if you wish.
-1 to 2 Tablespoons capers preserved in vinegar or brine, (more if you desire), rinsed and drained
-1 hot house cucumber, cut into quarters the long way, then into thick, bite-size chunks. No need to peel but you can remove a strip or two of peel, or run a fork down the length of it; all the way around, for a decorative appearance
-Red Bell Pepper, cut into ½-inch to 3/4-inch pieces
-Yellow Bell Pepper, cut into ½-inch to 3/4-inch pieces
-½ red onion, thinly sliced
-Fresh Basil leaves
The vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Optional ingredients~ but I usually add one or more of these:
-Kalamata, or other flavorful olives, pitted (and halved if desired)
-Marinated artichoke hearts
-Fresh mozzarella, cubed
-Roasted red peppers (from the jar) cut into bite-size pieces

The vinaigrette recipe:
½ to 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
½ to 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 to 3 tablespoons vinegar ~depending upon the sharpness of the vinegar. (This is your choice, any good wine-based vinegar will do, I prefer white wine vinegar, Sherry vinegar, Champagne vinegar, or even red wine vinegar ~ if you don’t mind the bread turning a pinkish-hue.)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, may need to add more
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk all ingredients for the vinaigrette together in a small bowl, taste and adjust seasonings, set aside.

To assemble the salad:
Place the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, capers, and any optional ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Add the bread cubes, then pour the vinaigrette over and toss gently again. Season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle whole or torn basil leaves over the top. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend. I usually dig right in! :)
Last night I grilled the bread; here it is before turning ~

A perfect summer dinner, al fresco ~
Panzanella & a Frittata!


  1. *waving Hi!* to you Greg! Your new photo is terrific.

    Your Kimchee recipe has been on my mind :) ~ I'll follow your tutorial, for sure.

  2. i swear i posted this morn and its not here... i just thanked you for making my day start off so special. thank you for sharing your house with us, its a real treat to see how the other half eat!

  3. Hello! Oh I love Panzanella..I will try yours:) It looks so good.

    Oui Mary..Merç!

  4. Jain and Monique, you BOTH inspire me with your creativity and incredible talents. Thank you for your words of encouragement. :)

  5. Perfection as usual, Mary! Have to try the panzanella!
    How cool, I got here through foodgawker!

  6. Mary, looks delicious!

  7. So delicious looking Mary! I had a hospital cafeteria version of this salad last week! They are trying to get fancy lol. I think I'd prefer to try your version :-) Pretty pretty pics.

  8. Thank you Dish,Debbie and Suzy!
    Suzy, thinking about it this would be great on the menu at the hospital cafeteria ~ it works really well on a buffet table, so why not? Sounds like they are offering up some imaginative food!


Thank you for your comments, friends ~ they make my day!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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