Panzanella is one of the most traditional Tuscan summer dishes. It is a perfect – and perfectly simple – summer recipe incorporating the best of summer’s produce with leftover bread. (The Tuscans have historically been wonderful at repurposing stale bread whether with panzanella or a classic ribollita!)
Panzenella always includes tomatoes, and from there the ingredients vary. Sometimes it includes onions or cucumber, and of course plenty of olive oil and vinegar are what make the flavors sing.
It’s important to taste the panzanella when you make it and again before serving. If you use a classic Tuscan bread, which often contains no salt, you’ll have to season the dish more aggressively than if you use a salted type of bread.
Panzanella (Tuscan Summer Bread Salad)
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Cook method: Mix
- 5 cups dried day old Tuscan style bread
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 red onion
- Chopped basil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red wine vinegar
- Place the stale bread in a bowl and cover with water for about 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the water from the bread, then place the drained bread in the refrigerator for about 1 / 2 hour.
- While the bread is chilling, dice the tomatoes and cucumbers. Peel and chop the onions.
- Remove the bread from the refrigerator. Add the diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Add the chopped basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill before serving.
Other versions of this salad have tuna fish, black olives, capers, carrot or celery added. We’ve also seen versions with cheese. We consider that more of a Greek bread salad (like a wonderful dakos), but it’s your panzanella – so add what you want!
Check out more summer blog posts, including:
By Peg Kern
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