Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

This traditional Italian bread salad is a feast for senses with its vivid colors, fragrant basil, and fresh, seasonal flavors. Although this salad can be served throughout the year, it is perfect for warmer months when fresh tomatoes are abundant and in season. The warm crusty bread adds enough substance for this salad to serve as a standalone meal on its own during warmer weather, as well.

Kitchen Tip: Place the sliced red onion in a large bowl with a metal colander on top. Then toss the chopped tomatoes with some salt in the colander and let the mixture stand for approximately half an hour. As the tomato juice drips into the bowl below, the liquid will soften the onion and minimize its bite, while infusing the tomato juice with incredible flavor. The result is more palatable raw onions for the salad and a more flavorful base for the homemade vinaigrette.

Any assortment of fresh grape, cherry, and/or heirloom tomatoes will work great in this recipe. If possible, use a nice selection yellow and red varieties, as shown, for a great presentation.

Note: A simple seasoning blend of onion powder, garlic powder, Italian season, salt, and black pepper is used here to add flavor to the crusty toasted bread. For best results, reserve one-half teaspoon (or more, if desired) to flavor the vinaigrette, as well.

This wonderful, warm Italian bread can be served year round in most locations, but it is especially delicious during the warm summer months when fresh, off-the-vine tomatoes are in peak season.

Preparation for Panzanella Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes (+ time to salt the tomatoes)
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Salad Ingredients:

½ medium red onion, sliced thin
1 lb. fresh cherry, grape, or heirloom tomatoes, cut in half or into bite-sized pieces
2 t. salt
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 oz. Ciabatta or other crusty Italian bread, sliced ¾” thick
½ t. onion powder
½ t. garlic powder
½ t. Italian seasoning
¼ t. sea salt
¼ t. black pepper
½ c. fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry, torn into bite-sized pieces

Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients:

2 T. tomato juice from salted tomatoes (see instructions below)
2 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. Dijon mustard
½ t. seasoning mixture (leftover from toasting the bread, see above)
1 t. honey, preferably local


1. Place the sliced red onion in a large bowl and set a metal colander on top.

2. Add the tomatoes to the colander and sprinkle with the salt. Gently toss to combine and set aside for 20-30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

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4. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange the bread slices in the skillet and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top. Sprinkle with the garlic and onion powder mixture and heat until the bread is nicely toasted on the bottom, approximately 4-5 minutes.

Tip: Reserve some of the seasoning mixture to add to the vinaigrette.

5. Turn the bread and sprinkle additional seasoning mixture on top. Continue heating until the bread is evenly browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Place the torn bread chunks in a bowl and set aside.

6. Remove the colander from the large bowl and carefully drain out the tomato juice in the bowl to use in the vinaigrette. Set aside.

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7. Next, prepare the vinaigrette by combining two tablespoons of the reserved tomato juice with the remaining dressing ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.

8. Add the softened red onion, fresh basil, and toasted bread chunks to the seasoned tomatoes and gently toss to combine.

9. Drizzle a little of the vinaigrette on top of the salad and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a large serving bowl or platter and serve immediately with the remaining dressing on the side. Enjoy!

Panzanella Salad Recipe In-Process Photos:

The photos below will help you visually in preparing this delicious recipe.

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This delicious and favourite Panzanella Salad recipe is featured in the following food themes as follows:

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