All Recipes, Salads, Vegetarian

Panzanella Salad

May 23, 2021

Panzanella Salad with homemade garlic croutons, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, and a basil vinaigrette. This salad is a family favorite!

Summer is around the corner, and I’m expecting at-home gardens to be overflowing with juicy, ripe tomatoes in no time! One of my all-time favorite salads is a Panzanella salad. My mom ate it every day for lunch growing up, and it holds a special place in my heart.

What is Panzanella?

Panzanella is a chopped salad of soaked stale bread croutons that originated in Tuscany. It’s very popular in the summer because one of the main ingredients, the tomato, is ripe from May through October! Traditional versions of Panzanella include red onions and cucumbers, sometimes basil, and is tossed with olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Today I’m using some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, homemade garlic and parmesan croutons, and tossing it with a light basil vinaigrette.

heirloom tomatoes and grape tomatoes sliced on cutting board

How do you make homemade croutons?

Homemade croutons make this Panzanella salad and are practically the easiest you could make at home! Not to mention, so much better than anything you could buy at the store. Additionally, they’re really easy to modify depending on the dish or flavor profile you’re going for. They can be made with any kind of bread that you have on hand (including gluten-free), and they’re easy to make as large or small, soft or crispy, plain or seasoned as you might prefer.

Simply toss cubed bread in a large bowl with olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese, and your choice of seasoning until all the bread is evenly coated. Spread the croutons in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

cubed bread tossed in olive oil and herbs in white bowl

What is the best bread for croutons?

To make really good croutons, you need to start with really good bread. It’s best to use a nice crusty loaf of bread, either Artisan, Italian, or Sourdough. It is also best to use bread that is stale, at least a day or two old. So if you have stale bread sitting on the counter, don’t throw it out! Don’t cut off the crust, either! The crust is what makes the croutons so delicious!

homemade croutons on lined baking tray

What should I serve with this salad?

Panzanella pairs so well with your favorite summer grilling favorites! Chicken or steak, shrimp or salmon. This salad is also great when served with my chicken piccata, one pan sausage and veggies, or sous vide steak!

close up shot of panzanella salad in serving bowl
basil vinaigrette poured on panzanella salad
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Panzanella Salad

  • Author: Nicole Triebe
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 as a side salad 1x
  • Category: salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Scale

For the Croutons:
12 oz crusty bread

1/2 cup olive oil

3 teaspoons Italian seasoning, homemade or store-bought

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the salad:

1 lb ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced or cut into cubes

1 lb grape tomatoes, sliced

1 cup mixed spinach and arugula

1 ball of Burrata cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing:

1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Make the croutons by tossing the cubed bread in a large bowl with olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and seasoning.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and set aside.
  • Make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a blender.  Blend to combine. 
  • Slice tomatoes 
  • Place mixed greens at the bottom of a salad bowl.  Top with sliced tomatoes, Burrata and croutons.  Drizzle with dressing.  Serve! 

Keywords: tomatoes; salad; croutons

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