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Panzanella Salad is the clever Italian solution for combining crusty bread with with a rustic medley of refreshing vegetables, creamy fresh Mozzarella and fresh herbs tossed with a zippy vinaigrette. Panzanella is basically the salad mascot of sun-soaked dining al fresco!
While I do love my leafy greens, I can’t say that I entirely miss their presence in a Panzanella Salad! It’s a nice break from a traditional green salad. Each bite is a juicy, crunchy treat. And all those bright and beautiful colors have me mesmerized! If you have never made a Panzanella Salad, boy you are in for a treat! And if you are already a fan, surely you need no further convincing!
Here’s what you need for this Panzanella recipe..
Tomatoes– I really recommend using a variety of colors, for flavor and visual appeal! Choose smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape. Large tomatoes are fine and all, but they can be a little TOO juicy, especially after they start to break down from salt. Plus you really want your salad ingredients to be a comfortable bite size, not huge hunky pieces that require a knife to cut through. Just go with the smaller ones- it will be less juice and less cutting for you!
English Cucumber: Again, water content. English cucumbers are the longer kind that you usually find individually wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. These have less seeds than the regular garden variety. Persian cucumbers would also be a good choice.
Bell Peppers : Sweet, crunchy, refreshing! I just love sweet peppers. They are probably my favorite raw vegetable to snack on! I used orange and yellow in this recipe. But you can choose you favorites, or whatever is available to you.
Herbs: FRESH herbs, basil and chopped parsley are just perfect. Giving the salad another layer of sweet, floral notes. I bet some punchy scallions or chives, or even the addition of cool mint leaves would also taste great!
Fresh Mozzarella: Creamy, soft fresh Mozzarella is the perfect cheese for Panzanella salad. You could leave it out if you prefer. But I prefer- IN!
Kalamata Olives: Bring a salty briney taste to the table. You could use a different kind, if preferred. Make sure they are pitted though! Also capers would bring a similar saltiness, if you would prefer to use those.
Red Onion: I know eating raw onion is an act not tolerated by all. But even if you don’t eat the onion, having it in the salad is worth the slicing. It gives the Panzanella a robust, punchy flavor. Here’s a tip.. put the sliced onion into the homemade vinaigrette– let it sit and marinate in there to mellow the raw intensity.
Crusty Toasted Bread: A thick crust will keep allow your bread to hold up longer than a soft crustless variety. Think peasant, ciabatta, sourdough or a French baguette. Also, stale, bread is ideal. If you don’t have a stale loaf laying around, begging for use. You can toast fresh bread and get a similar effect- which is what I did in this Panzanella recipe.
Dressing for Panzanella
It’s so easy to whip up a fresh Vinaigrette for the Panzanella, using staples you likely have on hand.
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Simple Steps to Make Panzanella Salad
Cube Bread and toast in oven if necessary. If you are using stale bread, you can skip this step!
Prepare your Vegetables and Herbs: cut them into just larger than bite sized chunks. Not too small, as if it’s diced salad, but not too big to where you are going to need a knife to cut while eating.
Red Wine Vinaigrette: simply whisk together ingredients.
Combine Bread, Vegetables, Herbs, and Dressing. Let salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving, giving time for the flavors to meld.
Serve and Enjoy!! Preferable with a cool glass of white wine!
If you LOVE Panzanella, Check out these recipes:
Panzanella Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Herbs
- 1 lb colorful assortment of cherry tomatoes halved, or quartered if large
- 1 large English Cucumber seeds scooped
- 1 yellow bell pepper large rustic chop (about 2 inch pieces)
- 1 orange bell pepper large rustic chop (about 2 inch pieces)
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh basil chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley chopped
- ¼ cup Kalamata pitted olives chopped
- 4 cups Crusty Toasted bread cubed, toasted with olive oil and a pinch of salt
Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp oregano dried or fresh
- ¼ cup thin sliced red onion
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Whisk to Combine. Place the bowl in the refrigerator while you assemble the salad.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut bread into 2-inch cubes and with olive oil or olive oil spray and a pinch or sea salt. Arrange on baking sheet and bake for 10 min, until bread is toasted and crunchy. Remove and let cool before adding to salad.
- Combine all prepared vegetables into large salad bowl. Add half of Red Wine Vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add the toasted bread and remaining Red Wine Vinaigrette and toss to combine.
- Let salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving, giving time for the flavors to meld.