Panzanella Salad is a delicious and flavorful rustic classic Italian tomato and Italian bread salad using stale Italian bread, cold-pressed organic extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, and kosher salt.
Panzanella Salad is a simple classic Italian dish popular in Italy, using the freshest harvested vine-ripened tomatoes during the season and stale Italian bread, which you can find in any Italian or Italian-American kitchen.
There are a few different versions of this Authentic Panzanella salad, and when made properly, they are delicious. However, there several that are not authentic Panzanella salads. Just remember, Italian recipes are simple and very straight to the point. They do not contain 20 ingredients and 40 instructions. So if you pull up a recipe for Panzanella salad with more than 6-8, skip over it. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
I love this Panzanella salad because you can use various types of tomatoes of all sizes, flavors, colors, and textures. Just be sure to use fresh vine-ripe tomatoes that are homegrown or locally grow by a farmer. Those are the best-tasting tomatoes.
Don’t be shy to add a variety of organic, locally grown tomatoes to the salad. You can about use any combination of tomatoes. In this Panzanella Salad, I used several types and colors. I used Plum tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes in this version.
As far as the onions, you can easily use either a sweet onion or mild salad onion- I love the mild purple salad onions, so that’s what I have used today in this recipe. They also add a lovely color to the salad. I do not recommend yellow onions or Red Spanish onions; they seem to overwhelm the flavor of the tomatoes and bread.
Let’s talk a little about the bread. While I use a loaf of stale bread (not the entire loaf, of course) in this Panzanella, I do not use the old-school soak your bread in water method. I’m not too fond of the texture or taste of stale Italian bread that has been soaked in water. I prefer the stale bread to be lightly toasted due to the water taking away from the flavor, and the texture bothers me.
You can quickly toast the stale bread in your oven or use the method I prefer–my air-fryer on a shallow setting for 3 minutes or so. I have found the perfect texture for soaking up those delicious juices off the tomatoes, white wine vinegar, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. This makes the salad more delicious tasting to me by adding another layer of flavor.
One of my favorite blogging buddies, Christina from Christina’s Cucina, also has an incredible variation of a traditional Panzanella Salad that I bet you would love as well, so drop by and check her recipe out. You won’t be disappointed, I promise you. I have made her recipe a few times and loved it just as much as our family recipe. It’s super delicious and authentic.
SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT FOR THE PANZANELLA SALAD
Sharp kitchen knife
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PANZANELLA SALAD
Stale Italian Bread– I lightly toast mine for about 3 minutes or until lightly golden. This is optional.
Tomatoes– I use a variety of sliced organic, locally grown juicy tomatoes. This lends beautiful color, layers of flavor, and different textures to the salad.
Onions– Mild purple salad onions or Vidalia onions work best. Red Spanish onions and Yellow onions will overpower the flavor of the salad.
Champagne Vinegar or White wine vinegar –For the best flavor results, the Champagne Vinegar is my pick, but White wine vinegar is also perfect in this Panzanella Salad.
Fresh Basil leaves – Torn into small pieces for optimal flavor in the salad
Kosher salt- I prefer Kosher salt over sea salt, but Sea salt is also excellent to use
TIPS FOR MAKING THE PANZANELLA SALAD
Use organic locally grown produce versus hothouse ingredients for the best flavor results.
Do not refrigerate any of the tomatoes that you will be using in this salad.
Do not substitute croutons for stale Italian bread. Trust me. The results will be completely off. Use stale Italian bread, Ciabatta bread, or Italian rolls instead.
Lightly toast the stale bread for the best results. This process can be done in a preheated 275-degree oven or done on low in an air fryer.
Do not take a shortcut by using Italian dressing- in Italy, Italian dressing does not even exist. Buy quality champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar.
Do not use any other oil in place of the cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. It will completely throw off the results of your salad.
Do not use dry herbs in place of the fresh basil. Also, do not be tempted to use dried Italian seasoning. Keep the recipe traditional.
Use only Kosher salt or sea salt for the best results.
If you enjoyed this recipe, here are a few other suggestions
- Classic Italian Pasta Salad is made with organic tri-color rotini, packed with tons of vegetables, cheeses, meats, and coated in a homemade vinaigrette. It’s The perfect recipe to feed a crowd for picnics, potlucks, office parties, and family gatherings.
- Authentic Insalata Caprese is the perfect Italian dish. A simple Italian salad combines juicy tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella cheese, tender young leaves of basil, and olive oil.
- Tortellini Salad is the perfect salad for lunch, family gatherings, church potlucks, graduation parties; you name it. This Tortellini Salad is guaranteed to ROCK any gathering you take it to.
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Cutting Board
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoon
- Serving dish
- Serving spoon
- 6 plum tomatoes organic and locally grown
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes organic and locally grown
- ½ pint grape tomatoes organic and locally grown
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt may sub with sea salt
- 1 small purple onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup olive oil cold-pressed extra-virgin
- ¼ cup Champagne Vinegar may sub with white wine vinegar
- 6 slices stale Italian bread cubed and lightly toasted
- 8 basil leaves torn
- Lightly toast the stale Italian cubbed bread for about 3-4 minutes in an oven or air fryer until a light golden color. This should only take 3-4 minutes on low heat.
- Meanwhile, slice all the tomatoes and lightly salt with kosher salt or sea salt and place in a glass dish. Let sit for about 10 minutes so that the juices will collect. Reserve tomatoes and juices.
- Thinly slice the purple salad onion or sweet onion and add to the glass dish with the sliced tomatoes.
- At this time, add the Champagne Vinegar or White wine vinegar to the tomatoes and onions. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
- Once the mixture has sat for 5 minutes, add the lightly toasted stale Italian bread. Let sit for about 10 minutes, before adding freshly torn basil leaves. Combine the mixture and serve promptly.