Summer Panzanella Salad Recipe

by Maris Callahan on June 10, 2010

Summer Panzanella

Sometimes when I cook, the recipe turns out exactly like I’d imagined it. Other times, not so much. One Christmas I tried to make peppermint stick sugar cookies and instead, they turned out looking more like misshapen lumps of pepto-bismol tinted dough sticks, better suited for the bottom of the trash bin than for a festive dessert platter.

Another time, I attempted key lime bars and the color that the neon lime zest produced when I whipped it with egg yolks and condensed milk can only be described as…well, I would rather not describe it. I’m trying to be appetizing here.

I am not trying to shill platitudes or sing songs here about how recipes don’t always turn out according to plan but that occasionally, the best kitchen messes turn into successes. The¬†point that I’m getting at is that even though not all recipes turn out as planned, sometimes they are every bit as good as you hope they’ll be; sometimes even better.

So today, I’m here to tell you to make panzanella.

Summer Panzanella

I understand that there is irony between making a salad, eating a salad and putting bread in your salad but it really is probably one of the best inventions since, well, sliced bread. I’ll stop now.

Panzanella is an Italian dish sometimes referred to as “leftover salad” and is usually made with cubed or sliced bread, tomaoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and sometimes additional herbs or vegetables. Last year I made a three tomato panzanella with fresh heirloom, Roma and cherry tomatoes, capers and chopped fresh basil.

This recipe only utilizes one version of tomato and adds cucumber and red onion for a little extra crunch and kick. Make this salad a day before you plan on serving it to let the flavors blend together. The bread will soak up the dressing and it will be oh-so-good.

Summer Panzanella
Serves 4

What You Need:

1 day-old crusty peasant-style whole-grain baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
2 large or 4 medium-sized tomatoes (about 1 pound), trimmed and each cut into wedges
3/4 cup sliced unwaxed cucumber
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded (or 1 tablespoon dried, chopped basil, in a pinch)

How-To:

In a serving bowl stir together the bread, the tomatoes, the cucumber, the onion, the oil, the vinegar, the basil, and salt and pepper to taste until the salad is combined well.

Note: for best results, make this up to a day in advance.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Daryl June 10, 2010 at 5:00 am

This looks like my kind of salad. I could eat this 3 meals a day and be happy. Love croutons and it all looks so crisp and fresh

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Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) June 10, 2010 at 7:22 am

I love to make panzanella when the tomatoes are ripe at the farm stand in August. If the bread is stale, a trick is to soak it briefly in water and squeeze the water out. That helps it absorb the dressing.

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Kalyn June 10, 2010 at 9:44 am

I keep meaning to try making Panzanella with whole wheat bread; thanks for reminding me!

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Amy June 10, 2010 at 10:44 am

Yum! I just picked my first cucumber from the garden and this would be the perfect place for them to end up. I can almost taste it already!

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Joanne June 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

I’m of the personal belief that bread is necessary at just about every meal. I love the sound of it soaking up all of the dressing from the salad. What an awesome summer dish!

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Natalie (The Sweets Life) June 10, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I LOVE panzanella. I have a caprese version on my blog that features mozzarella too. One of my favorites!

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Kelly June 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I love making Panzanella. I have plans to whip one up once my tomato plants finally start yielding fruit, which I’m hoping based on the little tomato that has already started forming will be soon.

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M @ Betty Crapper June 10, 2010 at 7:45 pm

That looks like something I would order at a Deli. Love tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions. With bread it’s got to be amazing. Who doesn’t like bread?

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kat June 11, 2010 at 10:06 am

I love this salad on a hot summer day with ingredients right from the garden

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Juliana June 11, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Wow, it is sure a complete salad…great meal :-)

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Katie @ goodLife {eats} June 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I can’t wait for garden tomatoes and delicious dinners with panzanella again!

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runnerforever June 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Salads need something to make them more hearty, I love it!

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Sues June 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Mmmm this has been on my “to-make” list forever! In Garten has an especially delicious-looking one!

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Kelly June 14, 2010 at 10:43 pm

This looks amazing – I’m always trying to find ways to make salads more satisfying. Definitely adding this to my list of recipes to make!

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