/ /

Tuscan Panzanella Salad

This panzanella salad is the ultimate Italian summer meal. Loaded with juicy tomatoes, crunchy onions and cucumbers, this bread salad gets its wonderful flavors from simple, high-quality ingredients.

Tuscan panzanella salad served on a turquoise bowl.

What is tuscan panzanella?

Lets start by telling you that this is not your typical fancy-panzanella salad where the bread is toasted and added as croutons. This is the version from Tuscany. The panzanella that is served to you under the tuscan sun here in Italy.

Tuscan Panzanella is a bread salad featuring tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Its simple flavors comes from a good quality of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and fresh basil.

Tuscan panzanella.

DID YOU KNOW? Panzanella is also know as panmolle, pansanellapanmòllo or pane ‘nzuppo throughout various central regions in Italy.

The texture

Unlike the pinterest-style panzanella salad you might have seen, tuscan panzanella is not made with cubed, toasted bread. It’s made with soaked, squeezed, and crumbled bread. So the texture is sand-alike.

The ingredients you will need

BREAD: Unsalted Tuscan bread is the first choice when it comes to panzanella, but unless you live in central Italy, you can go with any type of artisan crusty bread. Do not use soft breads like sandwich bread or dinner rolls as they get too mushy when soaked. And remember, stale your bread before making this summer salad, otherwise it will become too soggy!

Crusty bread sliced on a cutting board.

TOMATOES: Even in the traditional recipe these days, Italian chefs uses any kind of tomatoes that are on season, such as cherry, heirloom, beefsteak, roma, etc. Some people like to use the most ripest as their juices will soak bread heavenly! Others prefer their tomatoes a little firm, just to enjoy a more salad-alike texture.

Heriloom tomatoes on a dark, green, wood surface.

ONIONS: Red onions are sweeter and adds a nice touch of color. In Italy the best quality and flavored onions are the ones called cipolle di Tropea, if you’re lucky enough to find them where you live, go for it!

Cipolle di Tropea (red onions) displayed on a rustic white wood surface.

CUCUMBERS: Adds a nice crunchy texture to panzanella salad, not to mention the freshness. There’s no right or wrong way to cut them, you can do so in cubes, half-moons or slices.

BASIL: Tons of it. But do not chop basil leaves with a knife, instead, gently tear it and add it to your salad.

VINEGAR: You’re going to use it to “season” the bread by soaking it with a mix of water. Red vinegar is widely used in Tuscan cuisine, so use the best quality you can find. Avoid balsamic vinegar as it add too much sweetness to the dish.

EVOO: Also know as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The traditional recipe calls for Tuscan oil, but any good quality of EVOO would works just fine.

Step by Step Panzanella Salad Recipe

Mix water and vinegar in a large bowl. Cut bread into thick slices then into cubes.

Crusty bread cut into cubes on a cutting board.

Add bread into the bowl with vinegar mixture and immerse it well so it can soak while you’re preparing the veggies.

Soaking bread on a bowl.

Now, cut tomatoes into halves or quarters if you using cherry tomatoes, or into chunks or cubes if you’re using regular tomatoes. Slice the onions, the thicker you do it, the more crunchy they will be.

Peel and slice cucumbers, you can also discard seeds if you want. Finally, Place all veggies on a large bowl.

Panzanella vegetables placed on a bowl.

Gently squeeze the bread to remove excess of moisture and then crumble it into the bowl with veggies.

Squeezing bread with hands.

Season with salt and pepper, then add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and lots of hand-torn basil.

Adding olive oil to panzanella salad.

Mix well to combine everything. Cover and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • If you using fresh bread, I suggest to slicing it and leave it in the countertop covered with a kitchen towel overnight, so it will stale and be ready next day or you can pop it in the oven for a couple of minutes to dry it a bit.
  • Allow panzanella salad to rest overnight, the flavors will infuse bread resulting in a more flavored dish.
Closeup on panzanella.

The variations

Even in Italy there are some variations for Panzanella. Those below are the most popular:

  • Mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella cubes are a fresh and delicious additions to this summer salad. We suggest to add it just before serving. Burrata is another soft cheese that you can add.
  • Canned tuna. Another favorite variation, you can use olive oil canned tuna or water packed for a healthier version.
  • Anchovies. This addition is very popular in central and southern Italy. It gives a nice sea-alike touch.
  • Hard-cheese. Parmigiano, or other types or hard cheeses such as Pecorino, Asiago, etc.
Panzanella recipe.

Tuscan Panzanella Salad

This panzanella salad is the ultimate Italian summer meal. Loaded with juicy tomatoes, crunchy onions and cucumbers, this bread salad gets its wonderful flavors from simple, high-quality ingredients.
PREP 15 minutes
TOTAL 45 minutes
No ratings yet
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 8 oz stale crusty artisan bread (cut into cubes)
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 1 medium red onion (sliced)
  • 1 large cucumber (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar (as needed)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Mix one part of water and half part of vinegar enough to soak bread in a large bowl.
  • Add bread into the bowl with vinegar mixture and immerse it well so it can soak while you’re preparing the veggies.
  • Once you'll have all vegetables cut and ready on a bowl, squeeze the bread to remove excess of moisture, and then, crumble it into the bowl with veggies.
  • Season with salt and pepper, then add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and lots of hand-torn basil.
  • Mix well to combine everything. Cover and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

notes

  • If you using fresh bread, I suggest to slicing it and leave it in the countertop covered with a kitchen towel overnight, so it will stale and be ready next day or you can pop it in the oven for a couple of minutes to dry it a bit.
  • Allow panzanella salad to rest overnight, the flavors will infuse bread resulting in a more flavored dish.
*nutritional info doesn’t include evoo.
Nutrition
Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 607IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 3mg
Don’t miss any recipe.Subscribe for free to our Newsletter!

Other Italian summer recipes

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating