My friends, don’t sleep on this simple Panzanella salad! It’s a quick and delicious way to use up day-old bread, ripe tomatoes, and other summer produce. For the ultimate convenience, you can even prep the ingredients ahead of time. What’s not to love?!?!
What Is Panzanella?
Panzanella is a hearty Tuscan salad and an OG food waste recipe. It was created by Italian peasants to keep stale bread out of the trash and to use up garden produce before it spoiled. It can be made with almost any combination of fruits and veggies, but traditionally, the stars of the show are juicy summer tomatoes and crusty bread that’s had time to absorb the salad’s tangy dressing.
Ingredients You’ll Need
You’ll need some day-old bread, ripe tomatoes, some fresh greens, and any other summer fruit and veg you want to take advantage of. You can dress it with your favorite bottled dressing, or you can use our easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Beth and I added mozzarella pearls because, YES. Then we just drizzled it with a little olive oil and vinegar that we emulsified in a mason jar. (That’s just chef-speak for shaking the ever-living life out of it until the oil and vinegar transform into a creamy dressing.)
How Long Does Panzanella Last?
While it lives forever in my dreams, in real life, Panzanella doesn’t last longer than a day. You’ll need to make it an hour or so before serving to give the bread time to soak up the dressing.
Can I Meal-Prep Panzanella?
I’ve had lots of success prepping Panzanella components ahead of time. Chop and toast the bread, cool it, then store it in an air-tight container with a folded paper towel in it to absorb humidity. Slice and salt the tomatoes and store them in an airtight container as well. The salt forces them to release their juices, which you can then incorporate into your dressing. Chop the rest of your ingredients and also store them in your fridge in an airtight container. Then it’s as easy as mixing everything together with greens and dressing. Toasted bread will stay fresh at room temperature for a few days. Chopped produce will also stay fresh for a few days in the fridge.
- 3 cups bread, cubed ($2.00)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided ($0.64)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes ($3.49)
- 1 nectarine ($0.90)
- 1 cucumber ($0.69)
- 1/2 red onion ($0.40)
- 10 oz. baby spring mix ($3.49)
- 4 oz. mozzarella pearls ($1.75)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.08)
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.10)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the bread into 2 x 2-inch cubes and place in the sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to combine. Bake until toasted, about 20 minutes.
- While the bread toasts, wash all of the produce. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the cucumber in 1/2 inch thick quarter rounds. Slice the nectarine in 1/2 inch thick slices. Slice the red onion in 1/4 inch thick half moons.
- Once the bread has toasted, pull it from the oven, and allow it to cool.
- Add the toasted bread to a very large bowl and top with salad greens. Top the greens with tomatoes, nectarines, cucumbers, red onions, and mozzarella pearls.
- Add remaining olive oil, vinegar, and salt to a small mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Close the lid tightly and shake the oil and vinegar until combined. Dress the salad. Toss to coat.
- Let the salad sit for at least an hour to allow the bread to soak up the dressing. Serve and enjoy!
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How to Make Panzanella- Step by Step Photos
Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 300°F. Slice three cups of day-old (or fresh) bread into 2 x 2-inch cubes and place in the sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to combine. Bake until toasted, about 20 minutes. Fresh bread will take about 5-10 minutes longer.
While the bread toasts, wash all of the produce. Slice the pint of cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the cucumber in 1/2 inch thick quarter rounds. Slice the nectarine into 1/2 inch thick slices. Slice half of a red onion in 1/4 inch thick half moons.
Once the bread has toasted, pull it from the oven, and allow it to cool.
Add the toasted bread to a very large bowl and top with 10 oz. of salad greens. Top the greens with tomatoes, nectarines, cucumbers, and red onions. Finish with mozzarella pearls (not pictured here.)
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the tablespoon of vinegar, and the teaspoon of salt to a small mason jar or another container with a tight-fitting lid. Close the lid tightly and shake the oil and vinegar until combined. Dress the salad. Toss to coat.
Let the salad sit for at least an hour to allow the bread to soak up the dressing. Serve and enjoy!
I made this for some friends recently and everyone loved it! I left out the mozzarella pearls and added more nectarine (because I had extra). It was delicious and I got so many compliments.
Panzanella is a great salad recipe and I love its ingredients which are great for health.