Ideal dinner for a hot summer night, this Tuscan Panzanella Salad combines fresh tomatoes, stale bread (yes really!) & basil to make the most delicious salad. Dairy & egg free, this moreish salad can easily be adapted to be gluten free too.Jump to Recipe
I have started a little herb garden in a pot in my back garden.. I love the amazing aromas of fresh herbs and the way they can elevate a dish or even become the star of the show. I am now on a mission to create as many allergy friendly dishes using up these beauties that the whole family can enjoy.
In this Tuscan panzanella salad, alongside the ripe, juicy tomatoes the fresh basil brings this dish to another level.
What is Panzanella?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary the official definition is
“An Italian salad made with stale bread in oil and tomatoes and often other vegetables”Cambridge English Dictionary
Panzanella salad is believed to have come about in the 16th century. The artist & poet Bronzino wrote a poem about his love of a salad with bread, onions, oil and vinegar which was later interpreted as Panzanella.
The stale bread was soaked in water and then wrung out, chopped and mixed with the other ingredients. Back then, the main ingredient to accompany the stale bread was onion not tomatoes as these hadn’t yet been discovered in Italy.
The recipe has evolved over the years and I’m excited to bring you my take on it!
Which bread to use in Panzanella Salad?
Traditionally, Tuscan Panzanella Salad is made with an unsalted Tuscan loaf, but the golden rule here is to use a crusty loaf, white sliced supermarket bread will not cut the mustard!
I have used sourdough in my recipe, but ciabatta or a country loaf will work just as well. To make the recipe gluten free you can substitute the bread for a gluten free sourdough/tiger bread loaf and this will be equally as tasty!
I toast the bread in the oven in my recipe, this crisps it up nicely and is especially important if the bread is not stale as the crispiness will soak up all the flavours beautifully and won ’t leave you with a soggy mess!
How to make Tuscan Panzanella Salad
- Toast The Bread – If the bread is really stale you can skip this step, however I feel baking the chopped bread in the oven with some garlic and olive oil brings it to a whole new level! Cook at 180° / gas mark 4 for around 10 minutes – ensure you mix the olive oil and garlic into the bread well prior to putting in the oven.
- Make The Salad – Chop your tomatoes in half, try and buy the best, ripest tomatoes you can, this will make such a difference to the flavour of the salad, I have used a punnet of mixed baby tomatoes as I love the variation of colour you get in the salad, however large, juicy, ripe beef tomatoes will work just as well. Chop your cucumber and red onion, pick the basil leaves from the stems and mix these in a large bowl together with the tomatoes.
- Make The Dressing – Combine the extra virgin olive oil with the red wine vinegar and garlic and shake well. Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil that you can.
- Assemble – Once the bread is ready, mix it into the bowl with the other ingredients, add the capers and olives, pour on the delicious dressing and give it all a good stir.
- WAIT! – This is the important bit! Leave the flavours to infuse together for at least 30 minutes before eating, this allows the juices from the dressing and tomatoes to really soak into the bread – believe me, its worth the wait!
What to serve with Tuscan Panzanella Salad
I mean, this salad is totally good enough to eat on its own, however if you are looking for something a bit more substantial you cannot beat a simple nicely roasted chicken shredded and tossed through the salad.
It also pairs nicely with a grilled steak or piece of pan fried fish.
How to Store Tuscan Panzanella Salad
This Tuscan Panzanella Salad will keep in the fridge for up to two days, the bread may be a bit soggier and the basil wilted a little, but the taste will be just as flavoursome.
Ensure you leave on the side for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature before eating.
I’d love to know what you think of the salad – leave me a comment in the box below!
Love this? Check out my other recipes
THIS RECIPE IS FREE FROM
- Tree nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (Check packaging on capers and olives)
- Gluten (unless using gluten free bread)
PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK ALL PACKAGING FOR ALLERGENS
Tuscan Panzanella Salad
- 150 g sourdough bread stale – chopped into 2 inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 300 g mixed baby tomatoes
- 100 g cucumber sliced, then chopped into quarters
- 10 g basil picked leaves
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- 55g green olives
- 1 tbsp capers
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Preheat oven to 180° / gas mark 4
- Chop bread into 2 inch squares and place in roasting tin
- Crush the garlic and mix in a small bowl with the 2tbsp of olive oil. Pour over the chopped bread and toss together
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes until crisp
- Chop the tomatoes in half, slice the cucumber then chop the slices in quarters
- Slice the onion thinly and pick the leaves from the basil
- Mix the olive oil and red wine vinegar
- Add all the salad ingredients to a serving bowl, along with the toasted bread, capers and olives
- Pour over the dressing and mix well
- Leave to sit for 30 minutes before serving