Panzenella (1)
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  • Food: Panzanella Salad
  • Writer: Lizzie Green
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

Panzanella! A playful name for a vibrant summer salad. Panzanella salad is a tasty Italian dish made with extra tomatoes and stale bread.

My version of the classic Panzanella salad. Under a simple, zesty vinaigrette, it has ripe tomatoes, crunchy handmade croutons, fresh cucumber and basil, and mozzarella. It’s a study in textures and flavors, with a hint of Italy.

This Panzanella salad recipe is one of my favorites, and I think you will enjoy it as well. It avoids all of Panzanella’s potential hazards. This Panzanella isn’t mushy, boring, or watery like some others.

Small tomatoes are used in this Panzanella salad because they are less liquid and less likely to go mushy. It’s layered on a huge platter, which contributes to its appealing appearance.

You determine how long the salad should rest before serving—the croutons soften up beautifully with time.

Great tomatoes are crucial, so prepare this Panzanella while you still have the chance!

This Recipe vs. Authentic Panzanella

Panzenella yum (1)
Food: Panzenella (Source: Dishing out Health)

My version of Panzanella changes slightly from the original. Stale bread is used in Florentine Panzanella by soaking it in water and wringing it off. The tomato juice, olive oil, and vinegar are then quickly absorbed.

My version of Panzanella is more akin to what you’d get on an American menu. Instead of making crunchy handmade croutons, I decided to make substantial croutons out of old bread.

Although the oil on the surface helps to repel tomato juice, some croutons will unavoidably absorb some as the salad sits. I like how the crisp edges contrast with the soft, pillowy, tomato-y side.

A shorter ingredient list is also used in traditional Panzanella, albeit mine isn’t that long. Cucumber, mozzarella, olives and/or capers, dried oregano, and garlic may or may not be found in Italian Panzanella, but they’re delicious!

Panzanella Salad Ingredients

To prepare this Panzanella, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Bread with a crust

Because you only need one-fourth of a loaf, this is the ideal way to use up stale leftover bread. Ciabatta, sourdough, or French bread are all good choices. If you like, you can use whole grain. If I could have discovered it, I would have!

Tomatoes Without outstanding tomatoes, you can’t make a fantastic Panzanella. When making Panzanella, cherry tomatoes and other smaller tomatoes are ideal.

When large tomatoes are sprinkled with salt, they can become so soft and juicy that they entirely break down. Smaller tomatoes are essential for a salad that is both juicy and substantial.


Cucumber slices are a refreshing touch. My favorite cucumbers are Persian (mini) cucumbers. You can also use a regular cucumber—slice it in half and scoop out the seeds first if it’s extremely seedy.

Mozzarella is an optional ingredient that adds a rich, creamy element to the dish. Purchase one fresh mozzarella ball and tear it into small pieces, or make cute little mozzarella balls as I did.

Basil leaves

This salad is incredibly fresh and green because of the basil! It is not to be overlooked.

Onion, red

Red onion is a common ingredient that has a crisp, pungent flavor. While working on the remainder of the salad, I mitigated the onion’s harshness by tossing it in the homemade vinaigrette and freezing it.

The outcome is an appealing combination of softly pickled red onion and lightly softened red onion.

Capers and/or kalamata olives

Use your favorite or a combination of the two. If you don’t care for either, leave them out completely! The briny, salty combination of the two was fantastic. It’s a mild effect because we’re just using two tablespoons in total.

Red wine vinegar and olive oil

Before baking, we’ll toss the bread in olive oil to make it extra crisp and golden. Then, to produce a vinaigrette, we’ll combine some more olive oil with vinegar.

Because we used olive oil to prepare the croutons and the tomato juice mellows down the flavor, the vinaigrette is purposely tangy.

Garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano (dried)

Without certain traditional Italian seasonings, this salad would be incomplete. Panzanella can withstand a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and oregano.

Panzanella Salad

Time to Prepare: 30 minutes

Time to cook: 10 minutes

40-minute total time

Serving: 8 servings

This recipe for Panzanella salad is fantastic! It has a light vinaigrette, handmade croutons, and plenty of ripe tomatoes and fresh summer veggies.

It’s crucial to layer the ingredients on a broad dish. This recipe makes one large salad, which serves 8 people as a side dish.


Homemade croutons

  • 4 ounces ciabatta or crusty sourdough bread, preferably stale (¼th of a standard 1-pound loaf or 3 cups cubed)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced


  • 1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 pound additional tomatoes (smaller tomatoes are better), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 mini cucumbers or 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, optional (buy small mozzarella balls or tear a larger ball into bite-sized pieces)
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh basil (about ½ ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons (total) thinly sliced Kalamata olives and/or capers

Instructions For Panzella

Panzenella easy (1)
Food: Panzenella (Source: Dishing out Health)
  1. To prepare the croutons, combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). To make cleanup easier, like a big, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place your bread on a baking sheet and slice it into 1-inch cubes (no larger). Drizzle the olive oil over the cubes, then season with salt and toss until well incorporated. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Prepare your salad dressing in the meantime: Combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and plenty of black pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk everything together until it’s smooth.
  4. We’ll add the onion to mellow its flavor and mildly pickle it—first, cut the sliced onion in half to make the pieces easier to handle. After that, add the onions to the dressing and mix well. While assembling the salad, place the bowl in the refrigerator.
  5. To make the salad, follow these steps: Place the tomatoes on a large serving plate and set them aside. Half of the croutons should go between the tomatoes, and the remainder should go on top. Distribute the cucumber rounds and mozzarella cheese across the salad.
  6. Toss the mildly pickled onions around with a fork or your hands. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad after giving it a good swirl. Top with basil, olives, and/or capers, as well as a little dusting of additional black pepper and dried oregano. Allow 20 minutes (or up to 1 hour) for the salad to marinate before serving.


  • STALE BREAD NOTE: If your bread is extremely mushy on the inside and difficult to cut, bake it for 3 to 5 minutes on a dry baking sheet. Then cube it, toss it in olive oil, and bake it according to the instructions.
  • TO MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE/VEGAN: Simply leave out the mozzarella or substitute cooked chickpeas (about one 15-ounce can rinse and drained, or 12 cups cooked).
  • CHANGE IT UP: Leave the olives and capers out if you don’t like them. If you want to add some more crunch, add chopped bell pepper to the mix. Use chickpeas instead of mozzarella as described above.
  • STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: This salad does not keep well because the croutons absorb the dressing and turn to mush over time. Save the croutons for later if you plan on having leftovers.