Classic panzanella salad uses rustic crusty bread and tomatoes as the base, covered in vinaigrette. Yep, you heard right, it’s a BREAD SALAD. Whoever invented this (apparently Tuscany in the 16th century) totally knew what kind of salad I really want to eat. The carb kind!
Plus, I always need more reasons to put basil into things in the summer since I love growing hugh jass basil plants (here’s how I do that, by the way).
You can toss lots of other ingredients into this salad like mozzarella, burrata, other veggies, artichokes, and other Italian herbs. I decided to keep mine pretty classic but added some cucumbers and a few other twists to the vinaigrette. Speaking of…
The dressing on this has tons of shallots, my very favorite kind of onion. They’re so sweet and light and perfect for Italian dishes. This recipe has a great take on making the dressing, too. They used the juices of the tomatoes as the base! So I ran with that idea and it was amazing.
You’ll need a fairly large serving bowl to be able to adequately toss this salad while it’s absorbing the dressing. Mine was a little on the low-edged side and it was a challenge keeping all the bread from jumping out (into my mouth). I’d recommend something like this acacia bowl or this glass bowl.
If you need more summer recipe ideas, here are a few of my faves:
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- 2 1/2 lbs tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Roma)
- 1/2 lb cucumbers, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning (I used smoked sea salt in the final step)
- 3/4 lb rustic French or sourdough bread, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp for the bread
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp white or red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar also works in a pinch)
- Black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
- Place cut tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside at room temperature to drain for at least 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, while toasting the bread.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until toasted, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool.
- When the tomatoes have been drained, set them aside. Add shallot, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and papper to the bowl with tomato juice. Whisking constantly, slowly add in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Feel free to allow the dressing to sit for a while to let the flavors meld.
- Add the toasted bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and dressing in a large bowl and toss well. Add basil leaves and continue to toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I used smoked sea salt). Let rest for at least 30 minutes until dressing is absorbed by the bread and softens slightly. Keep tossing often while it absorbs to make sure all the bread is covered.
If you make this recipe, share a photo and tag it @BIJOUXANDBITS. I’d love to see what you’re cooking!