Panzanella-this classic Italian bread salad is made with homemade croutons, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, basil, and tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a definitely a summer favorite!
I also love making Panzanella, it is the perfect salad when produce is at it’s peak. It’s the salad you will want to make when your garden is overflowing with goodies or when you come home from the farmers market with a basket of fresh produce.
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What is Panzanella?
It’s an Italian salad that is usually made with soaked stale bread (in this case, croutons), along with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. It’s commonly served in the summertime because of the delicious in-season produce that makes the salad SO good!
There are no greens, bread is the base and that is a VERY good thing. Bring on the carbs!
This is a pretty classic Panzanella! It’s made with:
- Homemade Croutons– I love making homemade croutons for this salad. Italian, French, and sourdough bread are all good options.
- Tomatoes– I recommend using ripe cherry or grape tomatoes. Large tomatoes can get too juicy and make the salad mushy.
- Cucumber– I love adding cucumber for a fresh crunch.
- Bell pepper– You can use red, yellow, orange, or even green! Use your favorite! I used yellow for sweetness and I love the bright yellow color.
- Red onion– Cut the red onion into thin slices. If you prefer onion in smaller bites, you can dice the red onion.
- Basil– Fresh basil is best for this salad.
- Balsamic Vinaigrette– I love using my homemade dressing. I promise it’s easy to make!
How to Make Panzanella
- Start with Homemade Croutons! You’ll only want to bake them for 10-12 minutes for this recipe so the bread can be dried out and crispy, but not totally toasted. Check them EARLY to make sure you don’t burn them. I really like using garlic powder and Italian seasoning on the bread crumbs to add a little extra flavor.
- In a large bowl combine the cooled croutons, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, basil, salt, and black pepper.
- Make the Balsamic Vinaigrette! This is a quick and easy dressing recipe, it only takes a few minutes to make and it’s SO much better than store bought.
- Toss everything together until all of the ingredients are well coated. I like to let the Panzanella Salad sit for 20-30 minutes before serving to really let the flavors combine.
- Pro tip-prep ahead and make the croutons and balsamic vinaigrette in advance!
This salad is very flexible. Here are a few ideas for mixing it up!
- Use roasted red peppers instead of fresh bell peppers.
- Add fresh mozzarella, shaved Parmesan, or crumbled feta cheese.
- Stir in chickpeas or white beans.
- Add extra herbs like fresh Italian parsley, mint, or chives.
- Sweeten things up by adding fresh peach slices or sweet corn.
- For a salty, briny kick, add in olives or capers.
- Gently stir in avocado slices. Avocado makes everything better!
It’s a wonderful summer salad to take to any BBQ, backyard dinner, or picnic. To make it a part of a delicious summertime dinner, it can be served along side:
- Grilled Italian Sausage and Peppers
- Baked Ziti
- Steak Kabobs
- Sheet Pan Pesto Gnocchi
- Chicken Parmesan
- Baked Spaghetti
- Lasagna Stuffed Mushrooms
What Bowl is Best for Serving Salad?
I absolutely LOVE serving salads to a crowd and my go-to serving dish is the Williams Sonoma Pantry Serving Bowl. It’s pretty and of great quality! It’s my favorite salad bowl and you can get it at Williams Sonoma. For packing salads, this Bentgo Salad Stackable Lunch Container is perfect and is available at Amazon.
How to Store
This Panzanella Salad is best served the day it’s made. It doesn’t keep well for later because the croutons will continue to absorb dressing and get mushy over time.
You can make the croutons in advance. They will keep in an air tight container for up to 5 days.
More Summer Salad Recipes
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- BLT Salad
- Tomato Salad
- Italian Tortellini Salad
- Easy Pasta Salad
- Black Bean Salad
For the salad:
- 6 cups homemade croutons
- 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 large English cucumber, chopped
- 1 yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped basil
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
For the Dressing:
- First, make the homemade croutons. Make sure you only bake the croutons for 10 to 12 minutes for this recipe. You want the bread to be dried out and crispy, but not completely toasted. Also, I like using the seasonings on the croutons, but you can omit the garlic powder and Italian seasoning if you want plain bread cubes for this salad. It’s good either way.
- In a large bowl, combine the croutons, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, basil, salt, and black pepper.
- Make the balsamic vinaigrette. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well until the salad is completely coated.
- For best results, let the salad sit for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. This salad is best the day it is made.
Have you tried this recipe?
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