About this recipe
Tuscan cuisine has a true treasure in its midst – Panzanella. This dish is a perfect blend of simplicity, freshness, and unforgettable flavors. Despite its humble origins, it is an absolutely delicious treat..
This delightful tomato and bread salad is evidence that with basic ingredients, one can create a scrumptious meal.
What is a panzanella?
Panzanella is an Italian salad from the Tuscany region. Traditionally, it is made with simple but flavorful ingredients such as ripe tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, basil, bread and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar.
In its essence, Panzanella is a wonderful blend of textures and flavors: the bread absorbs the juice of the tomatoes and the dressing, the cucumbers add freshness and the basil gives an aromatic touch that elevates the whole dish.
Why you will love this recipe
It’s truly delicious how the juice from the tomatoes and dressing soaks into the bread, making each bite burst with the full flavor of the salad or panzanella. Whatever you prefer to call it, it’s a delicious treat for your taste buds.
This salad is incredibly easy to make and can be dressed with olive oil and a high-quality vinegar. You can opt for a basic vinaigrette or follow the traditional Tuscan method of using the juice from the tomatoes to create the dressing.
Ingredients of the classic panzanella
Hard Bread: Traditionally, Panzanella uses stale Tuscan bread. This type of bread contains no salt and has a crunchy texture that softens when mixed with the other ingredients. Use baguette bread or whatever you have at home. I make my ensaldadas with croutons or toast if I don’t have stale bread.
Ripe Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a crucial part of Panzanella. They should be ripe and juicy, preferably of varieties such as beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes.
Cucumbers: Cucumbers add freshness to Panzanella. You can use normal cucumbers or English cucumbers, which have a softer skin.
Red onion: Red onion adds a spicy touch to the salad. It should be sliced thinly to prevent its flavor from dominating the dish.
Basil: Fresh basil gives Panzanella an aromatic and fresh touch. It is better to use whole or torn basil leaves instead of chopped to better maintain its flavor.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A good olive oil is essential for Panzanella. It adds a rich and fruity touch to the salad and helps to bring all the flavors together.
Vinegar: Traditionally, red or white wine vinegar is used to give acidity to Panzanella. You can also experiment with balsamic vinegar for a sweeter, deeper flavor.
Salt and Pepper: Finally, the Panzanella is simply seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
Other ingredients you can add
Mozzarella: Adding mozzarella cheese, especially fresh mozzarella, can add a creamy element to the salad. If you can’t get vegan mozzarella you can use vegan ricotta or homemade ricotta.
Olives: Black or green caselvetrano type olives can add a touch of umami to Panzanella.
Capers: If you like a touch of sour flavor, capers can be a great addition.
Peppers: Roasted or fresh red, green or yellow peppers can add a touch of sweetness and color to the salad.
How to make panzanella
Prepare the bread: If your bread is not already hard, you can cut it into pieces and toast it lightly in the oven to harden it or prepare croutons.
Cut the vegetables: Cut the tomatoes, cucumber and onion in pieces of the size you prefer. If you cut them in large pieces you will have a more rustic texture, while if you cut them smaller the salad will be more delicate.
Make the dressing: Mix the olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Add the basil leaves, torn with your hands to release their aroma.
Dress the salad: Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well to make sure all the ingredients are coated.
Let the salad rest: This step is crucial. Let the salad rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the juices from the tomatoes and dressing. This step transforms the salad from a collection of separate ingredients into a cohesive and delicious Panzanella.
Adjust seasoning: Before serving, taste the salad and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
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- 1 salad bowl
- 200 grams of bread in cubes old bread toasted or croutons
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 small red onion
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar preferably red or white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the bread: If your bread is not already stale, you can cut it into pieces and lightly toast it in the oven to harden it or make croutons.
- Cut the vegetables: Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into pieces of the size you prefer. Some prefer large pieces for a more rustic texture, while others prefer smaller cuts for a more delicate salad.
- Make the dressing: Mix the olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Add the basil leaves, torn by hand, to release their aroma.
- Dress the salad: Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well to cover all the ingredients.
- Let the salad rest: This step is crucial. Let the salad rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the juices from the tomatoes and dressing. This step transforms the salad from separate ingredients into a cohesive and delicious Panzanella.
- Adjust the seasoning: Before serving, taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Nutritional information of this recipe is only an estimate, the accuracy for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.