This panzanella salad is tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, cucumber and toasted bread cubes, all tossed in a homemade dressing. A fresh and colorful salad that’s perfect for summer entertaining!
One of my favorite parts of summer is all the fresh produce in season. Panzanella salad is my very favorite way to showcase summer tomatoes, and it also happens to be super easy to prepare!
How do you make panzanella?
The first step is to prepare your bread cubes. Toss the bread in olive oil, then bake it in the oven until it’s crisp and lightly browned. Cut up your vegetables, and make a simple dressing out of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings. Place the vegetables and bread cubes in a large bowl, then pour the dressing over the top. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Stir in fresh basil, then serve the salad and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect salad
- Any type of ripe tomato will work for this dish. I typically use small tomatoes on the vine, but other great options include heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes.
- I prefer to use English cucumbers in this dish, but Persian cucumbers are also a great choice. You can also use traditional waxy cucumbers, just be sure to remove the peel first.
- Choose a hearty, dense bread for the best results. I typically use a rustic Italian style bread.
- Any color of bell pepper will work in this recipe, I like to use yellow peppers for the color contrast, but red or orange will work just as well.
- I use a mandoline to cut my red onion into thin slices.
- The salad dressing for this recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance.
What do you serve with panzanella?
I find that panzanella pairs well with grilled meats, such as chicken, steak, shrimp or salmon. This salad is also great when served alongside a whole roasted chicken or roast beef. I typically serve another dish with my panzanella and meat, such as grilled assorted vegetables, roasted potatoes or a grain based salad such as a quinoa salad.
Can panzanella be made ahead of time?
This salad tastes best when it’s made at least 30 minutes in advance. This allows for the dressing to have a chance to soak in and really flavor the bread and vegetables. I recommend serving the salad within 6 hours of when it’s made.
While this recipe is great as written, you can add other ingredients to the mix to customize it to your tastes.
- Protein: Add a source of protein, such as white beans, prosciutto, bacon, grilled chicken or shrimp to turn this salad into a complete meal.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add more veggies to the salad such as artichokes, avocado, olives, mushrooms, spinach, shaved fennel or corn.
- Cheese: I love to add cheese such as fresh mozzarella balls, cubes of provolone cheese or shaved parmesan.
Once you try this salad, you’ll find yourself making it all year long – it’s just that good!
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For the salad
- 4 cups rustic Italian style bread cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 English cucumber halved, seeded and sliced
- 1/3 cup red onion thinly sliced
- 3 cups tomato cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3/4 cup yellow bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 cup basil leaves sliced
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bread cubes in a bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat.
- Bake the bread cubes for 10-15 minutes until dry and lightly browned.
- Place the bread, cucumber, onion, tomato, bell peppers and capers in a large bowl.
For the dressing
- Place all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the bread and vegetables. Toss gently to combine.
- Cover and chill the salad for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.
- Stir in the basil, then serve.