Classic Italian Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad is made with cubes of crusty bread, farmers market fresh ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and basil. All tossed in a fragrant basil pesto vinaigrette.
What is a classic Italian Tuscan Panzanella?
In it’s most basic form, a panzanella salad is a simple Tuscan dish of stale bread and ripe tomatoes dressed with oil and vinegar. Because its simplicity begs for fresh add-ins, you can find versions with produce from the farmers market like cucumbers, red onion, bell peppers, or squash. I even make a Summer Berry Panzanella Salad with pound cake and a honey vinaigrette!
Fresh, farmers market produce is key!
When a recipe like this Panzanella Bread Salad only has a few select ingredients, you want them to be of the highest quality. My advice is to use colorful heirloom tomatoes which are fleshier with tons of flavor. Skip the Roma tomatoes or the smaller tomatoes you typically find on the vine. They tend to have more seeds and a blander taste. Select fruit that is firm and heavy for max flavor! You want all those tomato juices to blend with the basil pesto vinaigrette.
- 1 medium-sized baguette, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and dried out overnight
- 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 medium cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp basil pesto
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place bread cubes and vegetables in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together pesto, mustard, vinegar, and oil. Adjust oil and vinegar for personal taste. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle salad with desired amount of dressing, toss to coat. Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Extra vinaigrette can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up 2 weeks.
Home Chef Tip: For crispier bread cubes preheat oven to 350ºF. Toss bread cubes with 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat. Generously salt and pepper. Place bread on a large baking tray. Toast 12-15 minutes until slightly golden.
Don’t forget the Basil Pesto Vinaigrette!
When basil is abundant at the farmers market, you can bet I am making fresh pesto. It’s a fresh alternative to heavy spreads on sandwiches and my go-to pasta ‘sauce’ for a quick dinner. If it’s the off season – rather than buy expensive fresh basil at the store – I invest in a jar of good quality pesto instead. The vinaigrette for this Panzanella Salad is a combination of pesto, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.
We hope you enjoy this Panzanella Bread Salad from SoFabFood Home Chef, Loriann from Thyme for Cocktails. If you love this fresh farmers market salad, be sure to visit our Salad Section for more like it. For daily recipe inspiration, subscribe to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Pinterest. Enjoy!