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!
During the warmer weather months I’m all about the salads, including caprese salad, tomato avocado salad, and this hearty Italian panzanella.
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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Panzanella Salad Video
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.
I served this salad with your grilled shrimp and we really enjoyed it! Perfect summer meal.
I make this on a regular basis because it is that good. I do make some minor adjustments based on my preference. I use 1/2 tablespoon mustard, skip the capers, and lightly salt and pepper the croutons. Really amazing salad, especially for those who are not salad eaters! Thanks for sharing!
Fun tasty salad that I really enjoyed.
Such a beautiful, vibrant, and tasty salad, it was a total hit!
I love the mixture of flavors but also how light this salad is!
I love salad recipes! This one looks so amazing and easy to make. Thanks for sharing!
Oh my goodness! This salad looks amazing! So perfect as summer side dish!
This is such an amazing salad! So flavorful!
Panzanella is one of my favorites! Love the capers in this one!
This is my kind of salad! Love how well the dressing goes with everything!
Love the fresh flavor and vibrant colors of this tasty summer salad. I will be making this for sure very soon.
I know for sure this Panzanella Salad would be a huge hit in my house!
I love everything about this recipe, i will be trying it out very soon!
The salad was delicious! I was out of capers and shallots, so I added a finely minced garlic clove. I also added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. I was out of Italian bread so I made the croutons from half a loaf of brioche bread. Incredible flavors! I could eat this daily during quarantine! 🥰