Panzanella Salad – Croutons, anyone? Crisp baguette, tomato, onion, celery, basil and bell peppers are tossed in a simple dressing. This popular Italian salad packs a punch in the flavor department, yet is made with only a handful ingredients!
Technically, this Panzanella salad is a bowl of flavorful croutons (or stale bread) – BUT, since it has an array of different veggies and a house made dressing, it’s a salad. Vegetables = Salad, it’s science. This panzanella salad is extremely simple to make and pairs well with almost any dish you can think of.
Not to mention – it’s crunchy, flavorful and different than all the rest! Say goodbye to boring salads. Although we are replacing lettuce with bread, it isn’t the healthiest “salad” but who cares? It’s more of a side to a big ol’ juicy steak anyways.
What is panzanella?
You might be reading this and saying to yourself, what in the heck is panzanella? What does it mean? Well..
“No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative – it gets the people going.”
Just kidding, I know what it means. Panzanella, otherwise known as “panmolle” is a Tuscan (Italian) chopped salad consisting of “stale” bread, onions, tomatoes (it can also include cucumbers and basil) and is dressed simply with olive oil, vinegar and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. This dish is extremely popular in the summer months at backyard BBQS with anything off the grill!
Keep scrolling to the recipe card for FULL ingredient amounts and instructions… don’t ask stupid questions.
- Bread – French baguette or ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Tomatoes – I used Campari tomatoes in mixed colors, but feel free to use what you’ve got!
- Bell Pepper – Again, use your preference of pepper, you don’t have to be a sheep.. I used a red bell pepper, julienned.
- Onion – Red Onion
- Capers – For a nice salty bite.
- Celery – Diced.
- Olive Oil – Substitute sunflower oil, safflower oil or avocado oil.
- Vinegar – I used plain ol’ white vinegar, use your preference.
- Basil – Fresh is best! Coarsely chopped.
- Salt & Pepper – To taste.
Note: My dressing is usually simple, as I don’t really like my salad to taste like my steak or vice-versa. However, if you’re feeling brave, replace the white vinegar with red wine vinegar, add some shallots and Dijon mustard and thank me later.
How to make panzanella salad
- Prep Bread – Cut the bread into 1″ (2.5cm) pieces and place on a tray. Leave aside in a warm place for around 30 minutes to dry for a bit or better yet, place it in the oven and toast it for a few minutes.
- If you do decide to toast the bread, which is the quickest option – preheat oven to 350°F (180°C), toss bread cubes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet and bake until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Mix Ingredients – Clean, chop, cut and slice all the ingredients. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss & Serve – Add olive oil, vinegar and croutons; toss lightly. Store in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and serve.
How to serve
You can serve it however you want, with whatever you want. Why not just make one for yourself and eat it right out of the bowl! Who’s stopping you? If you NEED an example: It can be served as a vegetarian dish on its own or it pairs deliciously with any kind of meat – steak, chicken, or better yet, my beer can roasted chicken!
How to store leftover panzanella salad
Ok, if I’m going to be honest, if you’ve already tossed your salad in the dressing, it will definitely lose it’s “toastiness” over time. This salad is best eaten day of, it’s so good you probably won’t have leftovers!
If you do have leftovers – store salad covered tightly or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, no promises.
- 1/2 French baguette or ciabatta cut into 1-inch cubes (2 cups)
- 1 lb tomatoes Campari mixed colors
- 1/2 red bell pepper julienned
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1 celery stalk diced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 0.19 oz basil about 10 leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
- Cut the bread into 1" (2.5cm) pieces and place on a tray. Leave aside in a warm place for around 30 minutes to dry for a bit or better yet, place it in the oven and toast it for a few minutes.
- If you decided to toast the bread, then preheat oven to 350°F (180°C), toss bread cubes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet and bake until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Clean, chop, cut and slice all the ingredients. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper.
- Add olive oil, vinegar and bread croutons; toss lightly. Store in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and serve.