Panzanella salad recipe

Panzanella Salad (Tomato and Bread Salad)

25 mins
Vadim Rachok
08.07.2024
08.07.2024
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Do you know what Panzanella salad is? It is the perfect tomato and bread salad for the summer. Imagine a sweet, ripe tomato, fragrant basil, onion, slices of lightly browned bread, and a tangy vinaigrette. Sounds like the perfect lunch or light meal. Check out the best Panzanella salad recipe with useful tips below and make this Italian dish at home.  

What is a Panzanella Salad?

Panzanella (tomato and bread salad) is a traditional Italian salad that has its origins in the region of Tuscan. The use of stale bread revived and turned into a delicious and hearty salad, makes this rustic dish famous. The main ingredients are pieces of stale bread, ripe tomatoes, red onions, and basil. All are dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Bell peppers, capers, or olives may be added in some variations.

The Panzanella is well known for its refreshing and lively flavor. The stale bread absorbs the flavorful dressing and becomes soft and chewy, while the tomatoes provide a juicy and crispy texture. The red onion adds some heat, and the basil adds an aromatic. The dressing, which is typically a simple blend of olive oil and vinegar, ties it all together with a tangy and rich flavor.

Ingredients for Panzanella Salad

recipe for Panzanella salad

  • Colorful Tomatoes: Tomatoes add juiciness and vibrant flavor to the star of the Panzanella. They are an essential element for the balance of the salad, with a touch of sweetness and acidity.
  • Onion: Adds a sharp, slightly sweet flavor and a crunch to salads. Red onions are often preferred because of their mild flavor and rich color.
  • Basil: Adds a fragrant, herbaceous note that complements tomatoes and freshens salads.
  • Blue Onion (Red Onion): Provides a mild, slightly sweet flavor and crunchy texture. Its purple hue adds visual appeal.
  • Garlic: Adds depth of flavor and a hint of heat. It is used sparingly so as not to overwhelm the other ingredients.
  • Medium Hot Mustard: Balances the sweetness of the tomatoes and the acidity of the vinegar, adding a tangy, slightly spicy kick to the dressing.
  • Olive Oil: Provides richness and smooth texture to the dressing. It binds the ingredients together and brings out the flavors of each.
  • Ciabatta: Serves as the base of the salad. Stale bread absorbs dressing, becoming soft and chewy while remaining slightly crunchy.
  • Thyme: Complements the fresh ingredients with an earthy, aromatic flavor. It can be tossed into the salad or used as a garnish.
  • Wine Vinegar: Provides acidity that enhances flavors and adds a tart note to the salad. It helps soften the bread and blend the ingredients together.
  • Salt and Pepper: Essential for seasoning, they bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients. They make sure the salad is well-rounded by balancing sweetness and acidity.

Panzanella Salad Recipe

  1. First, cut the ciabatta into pieces (you can break it by hand). 
  2. Place on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1,4 ounces (40 g) of olive oil, and add two cloves of garlic and thyme.
  3. Then, put in the oven and bake at 356 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Slice the tomatoes, season with coarse salt, and place on a sieve to drain.
  5. Then, cut the onion into strips and the garlic into thin slices.
  6. Wrap the basil in a tube and cut it into thin strips.
  7. Then, add the water from the tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, and garlic to the basil in a bowl. 
  8. Add 2 ounces (60 g) of chilled olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. 
  9. Then, mix the tomatoes with the bread and onions, season with the sauce, and garnish with basil leaves. Enjoy!

Chef Recipe Tip:

  • It is necessary to collect tomato water to enhance the flavor of our dressing. 

Panzanella Salad Origin

best Panzanella salad recipe

Panzanella has its origins in the peasant cuisine of Tuscany. It was born as a way to use up stale bread and other available ingredients. This dish is an illustration of the Italian philosophy of “cucina povera” (poor cuisine). This philosophy emphasizes making the most of simple, common ingredients. Over the years, appreciated for its ability to showcase the flavors of fresh, seasonal produce, Panzanella has become a popular summer dish, especially in central Italy.

Salting Tomatoes Intensifies Panzanella Flavor

It is necessary to focus on the tomatoes. Mixing the tomatoes directly with the bread is good enough, but I was wondering if you could extract a little more concentrated taste by salting and draining them.

The process of salting draws liquid out of the tomatoes through the effect of osmosis-that is the tendency of a liquid (tomato juice) to migrate across a membrane (the tomato cell walls) from an area of low solute concentration (inside the cells) to an area of high solute concentration (outside the cells). In other words, salt pulls the water out of the tomatoes. This makes each piece of tomato more flavorful.

The liquid that is extracted from the tomatoes, while not quite as flavorful as the actual tomato that is left behind, still has a lot to offer. It was an instant upgrade to whisk this tomato juice into my vinaigrette. The end result was a salad with plenty of tomato aroma, interspersed with chunks of concentrated extra tomato.

How and What to Serve with Panzanella

how to make Panzanella salad

The bread in this salad makes it completely meal-worthy (yes, that’s a qualification in my world – see all my meal-worthy salads here). Otherwise, you can serve it as a side dish. Next to anything, Italian would be a natural choice, though it will actually fit in nicely with anything Western or European. It also makes for what I like to call a nice “two-in-one” side dish. That is a starch (bread) and a vegetable combined in one dish. This is always handy, as it saves you from having to make two separate side dishes to check off the two boxes.

Dry and Toast Bread for Panzanella

A crusty loaf with a dense, crunchy center and a good, crisp crust that allows it to sit in the dressing without falling apart and getting too soggy is the best bread for this salad. Try Italian country bread or ciabatta. If you remember, tear the bread in half and let it sit uncovered for a few hours or overnight to dry and harden. Before you make the salad, you can go ahead and toss the bread in some good extra virgin olive oil and toast it in the oven for a couple of minutes until it starts to crisp up in some places, but it also stays a little bit chewy. By letting your bread dry out and toasting it first, it will soak up the tasty vinaigrette and become soft and tasty without getting too soggy.

Panzanella Salad (Tomato and Bread Salad)
Author:Vadim Rachok
Category:Salads
Panzanella is an Italian bread, tomato, and red onion salad that is packed with flavor and different textures. I love to add mozzarella cheese and olives.
Panzanella salad recipe
Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
Servings:
3
The ingredients you need:
3 pcs colorful tomatoes
0,5 pc onion
1 bunch basil
0,5 pc blue onion
5 cloves garlic
0,4 ounces (10 g) medium hot mustard
3,5 ounces (100 g) olive oil
1 pc ciabatta
2-3 sprigs thyme
0,7 ounces (20 g) wine vinegar
salt
pepper
Let’s start !
1

Cut the ciabatta into pieces (you can break it by hand). 

2

Place on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1,4 ounces (40 g) of olive oil, and add two cloves of garlic and thyme.

3

Place in the oven and bake at 356 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 10 minutes until golden brown.

4

Slice the tomatoes, season with coarse salt, and place on a sieve to drain.

5

Cut the onion into strips and the garlic into thin slices.

6

Wrap the basil in a tube and cut it into thin strips.

7

Add the water from the tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, and garlic to the basil in a bowl. 

8

Add 2 ounces (60 g) of chilled olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. 

9

Mix the tomatoes with the bread and onions, season with the sauce, and garnish with basil leaves.

Nutrition Information
Servings Per Recipe: 3 Calories: 1850
% Daily Value *
 % Daily Value *
Total Fat 24g31%
Saturated Fat 6g28%
Cholesterol 18mg6%
Sodium 572mg25%
Total Carbohydrate 22g8%
Dietary Fiber 3g9%
Total Sugars 4g0%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin C 10mg11%
Calcium 162mg12%
Iron 1mg8%
Potassium 249mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. ** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data. (-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption. Powered by the ESHA Research Database © 2018, ESHA Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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