Panzanella salad is a great recipe for when you have stale bread. It’s a bread salad with tomatoes, basil, with a vinaigrette, and a little fresh mozzarella. This salad is great as a meal or paired perfectly with roasted chicken or a juicy steak.
This was one of the salads when I was fresh out of college, I thought I invented it because I just happened to have most of these ingredients in the refrigerator. However, I had a different dressing. Knowing that I didn’t create this didn’t stop me from completely enjoying it. Since then whenever I have some extra bread and I don’t want something sweet like bread pudding I make this salad. Serve this for your family and watch it disappear.
In this recipe
There aren’t many ingredients in this recipe, however it utilizes the wonderful freshness of the tomatoes and basil to make this salad a hit.
Bread: you want good crusty bread. It doesn’t have to be stale since you will be toasting it, however stale bread is great.
Tomatoes: I suggest your favorite most flavorful tomatoes around. I use Campari tomatoes or heirlooms.
Vinaigrette: the one uses both champagne and white balsamic vinegar. However, feel free to use your favorite vinegars.
Traditional panzanella salad
One of the biggest parts of the salad is the bread. Many times, panzanella is thought to be a salad with croutons, however the bread is the star of the show. Traditionally it was made with stale bread soaked in water, wrung out, and then tossed with some fresh vegetables. Onion, tomatoes, and sometimes basil and mozzarella are commonly found in this salad. However, feel free to add any of your other favorite salad ingredients such as cucumber and lettuce.
Making the salad
This by far makes the salad great for whenever you have bread instead of waiting until the bread becomes stale. By toasting it the bread is able to soak up all of that delicious dressing and any juices that the tomatoes release. It is important to allow the tomatoes to soak for at least 30 minutes. This will not only make them more flavorful with the salt drawing out the water, but this water is perfect for adding additional flavor to the dressing.
Let it sit before serving.
One of the most important parts is to allow this salad to soak for about 30 minutes. This will help soften the bread so that it will be easier to eat. Since the bread is toasted it is going to be a bit hard. This is also why there is so much vinaigrette for this salad. This is going to be the substitute for the water that would have been traditionally used for the salad. By adding the liquid from the tomatoes, you will further enhance the flavor of the salad.
Looking for other salad recipes?
Panzanella Salad with Mozzarella
- Mixing Bowl
- Lined sheet pan
- Food processor or blender
- 2 pounds tomatoes cut into 1 inch cubes or wedges
- 1 pound bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 ounces mozzarella torn or cut into small pieces
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 ounces basil fresh roughly chopped or torn
- 2 tablespoons shallots chopped
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon garlic chopped
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, 200°C, or gas mark 6.
- In a colander sitting inside a mixing bowl add the tomatoes and toss with all of the salt. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl add the bread and drizzle ¼ cup of the olive oil. Toss to evenly coat the bread and then spread over the lined sheet pan. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes or until the bread is toasted and starts turning golden brown.
- In a food processor or blender combine the mustard, pepper, garlic, shallot, the drained juice from the tomatoes, both vinegars and the remaining olive oil. Pulse or blend until smooth.
- In a mixing bowl combine the bread, basil, tomato and mozzarella. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to cover.
- Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before serving.