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The Basics of Panzanella

The Basics of Panzanella

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Try this often overlooked dish next time you set out for a salad

Try this panzanella salad recipe.

It's getting toward the end of summer, but it's still hot out there in some parts. And, honestly, we're getting tired of salads. So, how can we spice it up? Well, how about panzanella? Right away you can tell from the spelling that it's something different, because it has the word "pan," which translates to "bread" in Spanish or Italian. And you'd be right. Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad that is popular in central Italy, where it is also known as ;">panmolle (pronounced: pan-moh-leh). The salad also includes tomatoes, mint, and basil. Although it must be noted that, initially, before the advent of tomatoes, the salad was onion-based. And it has a plain dressing of olive oil and vinegar — that's it.

What's good about this salad is that you can use day-old bread, even stale bread, if necessary. You see, the bread is toasted in the oven before mixing with the other ingredients. That means the bread doesn't get squishy like croutons, and its crunchy taste prevails. The recipe given below is a basic panzanella. And the great thing about this is that you can add any other vegetables you desire: blanched peas, green beans, fava beans, mushrooms, broccoli, etc. You can even add pieces of ham, salami, or cooked chicken to it. The possibilities are endless.

Click here to see the Panzanella Recipe

How to Make Classic Panzanella Better Than Ever | The Food Lab

The temperature dial hit 107°F in my backyard in San Mateo last week, which meant only one thing for that Indian summer evening: salad for dinner.

The fact that my neighbor down the street was gone for the weekend and had a backyard overflowing with tomatoes from a hyperactive raised-bed garden narrowed down my selection considerably. I'd already Caprese'd myself out, so panzanella it would be. The classic bread-and-tomato salad manages to be fresh and summery, but still hearty enough to eat as a light supper or lunch.

Though it's got a reputation as a Tuscan dish, bread salads are not uncommon elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and let's get one thing straight: Panzanella is not a tomato salad with bread it's a bread salad flavored with vegetables. You can see the root of the Latin word for "bread"—panis—right there in the name.

Bread has been a staple food in the Mediterranean region for millennia, and that ancient bread didn't have preservatives, which meant that folks had to find creative ways to reuse it. Dishes like panzanella and gazpacho (which is a bread soup, not a tomato soup!) were the result.

Tomatoes didn't make their way into the dish until the 16th century at the very earliest (since tomatoes didn't exist in Europe until they were brought back from the Americas), and it's more likely that they arrived far more recently than that. Writing on panzanella in a 16th-century Italian text, the Florentine painter and poet Bronzino says:

"Un'insalata di Cipolla trita

"Con la porcellanetta e cetriuoli

"Vince ogn'altro piacer di questa vita."

That is: "A [bread] salad made with chopped onions, purslane [a type of wild succulent lettuce], and cucumbers surpasses all other pleasures in this life."

According to the fabulously well-researched* 1999 website, we here in the United States had no clue what panzanella was until the late 1970s. Imagine: Most folks in the US were exposed to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes before they were exposed to panzanella!

*Not to mention fabulously Web 1.0.

The salad has come a long way since then, to the point that it's now an essential recipe of the summer for anyone with access to good-quality tomatoes. (And let's get another thing straight: Good tomatoes are the only kind of tomatoes this should be made with.)

Unlike a Caprese salad, in which I strongly believe that anything beyond tomato, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, and pepper will only detract from the experience and simple purity of the dish, a panzanella salad can really be made with any number of vegetables.

I enjoy making a good grilled-vegetable panzanella, and in the spring I'll make a panzanella with asparagus. Heck, we've even got a recipe for banhzanella, a panzanella salad with the flavors of a banh mi sandwich.

But for today, we're sticking with the modern classic: tomatoes, basil, and bread in a light vinaigrette. How we optimize that salad comes down to the way we treat our ingredients.


basic Italian recipe serves 2 or 3


Place the bread into a salad bowl which will accommodate the rest of the ingredients.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle with the salt, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar and toss again, until well mixed.

Leave for a few minutes so that the juice can soak into the bread cubes, then serve.

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How to make panzanella

Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a container and immerse the bread for just a couple of seconds – don't let it get too soft! If necessary, gently squeeze the bread to remove excess moisture.

Break the bread into cubes, and place them in a large salad bowl.

Add some chopped, seeded plum tomatoes and an onion cut into slices, but not too thin.

Season with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and add a little more vinegar if you like.

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Panzanella recipe

My favourite Mediterranean ingredients combine to produce a heavenly salad that everyone loves.


  • 300 g leftover bread, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 125 ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 30 ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 500 g ripe tomatoes
  • 125 g red onions
  • 75 g olives pitted
  • 25 g pine nuts
  • 30 g capers
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 10.6 oz leftover bread, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 4.4 fl oz olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1.1 fl oz red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 17.6 oz ripe tomatoes
  • 4.4 oz red onions
  • 2.6 oz olives pitted
  • 0.9 oz pine nuts
  • 1.1 oz capers
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 10.6 oz leftover bread, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 0.5 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 0.1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 17.6 oz ripe tomatoes
  • 4.4 oz red onions
  • 2.6 oz olives pitted
  • 0.9 oz pine nuts
  • 1.1 oz capers
  • 1 handful of basil leaves


  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Recipe Type: Salad
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 25 mins
  • Cooking Time: 30 mins
  • Serves: 4


  1. Roast the peppers in a drizzle of olive oil for 20-30 minutes. When cool scrape off the skin and chop into chunks.
  2. In a large bowl toss the bread with 75ml of olive oil, the crushed garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Transfer the seasoned bread on to a baking sheet, and toast in the oven until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, red wine vinegar and honey.
  4. Slice the red onions as finely as possible and add to the dressing with the capers.
  5. Chop the tomatoes in half and the peppers in to chunks and add to the bowl.
  6. Finally add in the toasted bread, nuts and herbs, then mix together.
  7. Leave the salad to stand for 20 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the flavours. Season with a little salt and pepper and its ready to serve.

Recipe taken from &lsquoSimply Good Food&rsquo recipe app by Peter Sidwell

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Panzanella is the quintessential dish to throw together when you don't want to go to the store. The classic Tuscan salad calls for only a few simple ingredients: stale bread, miscellaneous produce, and basic seasonings.

Centuries ago in Toscana, when bread was baked only once a week, families would use leftover loaves by soaking the stale bread in olive oil and vinegar. The revitalized bread would be tossed with whatever fresh produce was available in the garden.

We're giving you one of our favorite panzanella recipes, but feel free to mix it up with whatever you have on hand. Boom: a simple, healthy meal that can feed the whole family (or just you) in no time, no market run necessary. It feels good to be Tuscan!

Panzanella (Bread Salad)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly

8 ounces stale bread (like the Rustic Classico from our bakery!)
1 red onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 cucumber
5 ripe tomatoes, cored (check for local varieties at your Eataly marketplace!)
1/3 cup pitted black & green olives
12 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Soak the onion slices in water while you prepare the salad, which lessens the bite of raw onion.

Place the bread in a bowl, cover with water, and set aside until soft. This depends on how stale the bread is: probably about 15 minutes for bread that is 3 days old.

Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes, and place them in a large salad bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and pour about half over the tomatoes. Toss to combine, and set aside.

Peel, seed, and chop the cucumber, and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the olives, then tear the basil leaves into the bowl. Drain the onion, and add it to the bowl. Toss to combine.

When the bread is soft, remove it from the water with your hands, squeezing out as much water as possible. Break the bread into chunks, and place in a medium bowl. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the bread, and toss to combine. Add the bread to the vegetables, and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more olive oil if needed, then set the salad aside to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving, tossing occasionally. Serve at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

Discover more ways to use day-old bread and other Italian ingredients in our zero-waste guide, and shop your local Eataly for the season's best produce, bread, and more!

Herb Marinated Tomato Panzanella

In celebration of a “Summer of Sauvignon Blanc” with Geyser Peak Winery, I’m making a rustic herb marinated tomato panzanella salad to pair with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc!

I’m so excited to bring you this exciting food and wine pairing today. Geyser Peak Winery is calling Sauvignon Blanc the wine of the summer, and I couldn’t be more on board!

Geyser Peak Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc is bright and juicy, with lots of fruit-forward notes and citrus undertones. It’s the perfect varietal to sip on at a summertime dinner party with friends or on a warm weeknight out on the patio. Basically, all of your summer gatherings would be made much, much better with a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

When it comes to the food, I was inspired to keep things fresh and simple. I love the idea of a really rustic, approachable menu to serve alongside the Sauvignon Blanc. And one of the dishes most certainly needs to be this herb marinated tomato panzanella.

I could go on and on about how much I love this recipe, but I’ll stick to the basics. It’s made with a variety of tomatoes (I’m using heirloom, campari, and cherry tomatoes here…but you can use whatever blend of tomatoes you’d like) marinated in an herb-packed vinaigrette, tossed with grilled bread, and topped with creamy burrata cheese. There is so much fresh summer flavor going on here, that it really doesn’t get much better than this!

The best part about summer cooking is that you don’t have to do much to make really good food. It’s all about taking minimal ingredients, preparing them simply, and coming together at the table to enjoy. And hopefully sipping on a glass of Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc while doing so!

What is panzanella?

I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of panzanella until I was lucky enough to go to Italy a few times on holiday years ago. I love Italy, the scenery is beautiful and the food it truly amazing. It was back before I followed a low histamine diet and there was a lot of pizza and pasta eaten on those trips! I blame my vague Italian heritage for the need for all those carbs . . .

However, I did manage to break my pizza obsession and tried panzanella, a really simple but flavourful salad of bread, salad vegetables, lots of olive oil and vinegar. It’s hearty and substantial, and lovely in summer.

Recipe: Panzanella – a delicious way to use up stale bread

One of the most delicious things that I have eaten recently was a simple bowl of panzanella, which was served in a relatively smart restaurant in Milan. This Tuscan dish is classic peasant food, frugal and made from scraps, but when made well it is memorable and and astonishingly good. Every cook will have their own recipe, but the dish at its most basic is a simple plate of stale bread which has been soaked in a mixture of olive oil, vinegar and tomatoes seasoning, herbs and other flavours can be added. As is the way with Italian food, simple but made with quality ingredients will win every time and the humble panzanella is no exception.

It can be a meal in itself, or an ideal accompaniment for soup or a salad. In the summer I’d be most happy with some for my breakfast – although I’d probably skip both the onion and capers first thing.

You do want to use a relatively good bread for this, sliced supermarket white simply will not do and will turn to mush ciabatta, a rustic loaf or sourdough will all work, you need a bread with some substance so it softens whilst still retaining some texture and shape. Your tomatoes want to be very ripe, verging on soft, sun ripened and fragrant. Mine were from the very last of the harvest from my mother’s greenhouse last weekend. It is worth the effort to remove most of the skin mine were so ripe that the classic method of lightly scoring the skin, then plunging into a bowl of just boiled water would have split the entire fruit, so I quartered the tomatoes and scraped the flesh from the skin using the back of the knife.

Add seasonings to suit you, I don’t really care for raw onion (and fear the effects of my onion breath on those around me so I rarely eat it) and used very little. Red onion is milder then white, and to tame it you can dice it, place in a sieve and pour boiling water over before using.

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