Panzanella Salad [From Tuscany]

Summer under a Tuscan sun means chunky tomatoes, big basil leaves, torn bread doused in olive oil and vinegar

Panzanella Salad Overhead

Panzanella Salad

The final recipe on our culinary tour of Tuscany ends with the traditional Panzanella Salad. Typical of rustic Tuscan cuisine, nothing is wasted, including day-old, or stale bread. It finds a brand new, vibrant life tossed with olive oil, vinegar, fresh basil and hearty chunks of freshly picked tomatoes.

Panzanella Salad Tomatoes

To elevate the flavors, I used a mix of regular and heirloom tomatoes and rubbed a bit of fresh, raw garlic on the bread.  If there ever was a dish that was meant to be enjoyed on a bright summer day, this is the one.  I attempted to grow heirlooms a few times in the past, but nothing like being a complete failure in the garden to humble my ego in the kitchen.

So I’m trying again. Hopefully, in a few weeks, Katherine can take pictures of my very own tomatoes.


Be sure to use stale bread that can stand up to a deep soaking of vinegar. Anything fresher will disintegrate and leave you with a mushy salad. If you want to honor the region, stick with a firm Ciabatta. But even a crunchy baguette or sourdough will work. The idea is for the bread to soak up the tomato juice, olive oil, and vinegar, so it transforms into something delightful than just plain old bread.

Panzanella Salad

Plan for an epic summer backyard party with this salad as a star side dish. To keep it Tuscan, add Spinach Gnocchi with Ricotta and Strawberry Bellini Prosecco Pops. Tuscan villa, optional.

Falls in love with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio

Stir memories of a sidewalk cafe in the Piazza or Signoria

In the spice chest, you’ll find just basil – beautiful, fragrant basil

Suggestions and Alternatives

  • To keep it traditional and to make a crunchier salad,  you can toss in some finely chopped red onions.
  • I added cucumbers to our recipe, but the authentic version is prepared without. Consider this version.
  • To make the salad a main dish, add a good amount of fresh mozzarella or slices of prosciutto
  • For a lighthearted alternative to a glass of Pinot Grigio, you can try a Lavender Peach Wine Slushie from Hunger|Thirst|Play.

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Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

A fresh Tuscan salad made with bread, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and vinegar.

Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 504 kcal


Panzanella Salad

  • 10 leaves basil fresh
  • 1 whole english seedless cucumber fresh
  • 4 whole heirloom tomatoes quality
  • 1/2 loaf day old bread
  • 1/2 cup olive oil quality
  • 5 tbs. champagne vinegar quality
  • 2 tbs. sea salt quality


Instructions for Panzanella Salad

  1. In a large bowl, peel one English seedless cucumber then dice to one inch. cubes.

  2. Wash and dice four heirloom tomatoes to one-inch cubes, add two tbs. Sea salt to tomatoes and cucumber and set aside for 10 minutes.

  3. Take 1/2 loaf day old bread and dice to one-inch cubes.
  4. After tomatoes and cucumber have marinated with sea salt for 10 minutes fold in day old bread.
  5. Let sit for 1 minute.
  6. Add five tbs. champagne vinegar and fold for one minute then let sit for one minute.

  7. Add four tbs. Olive Oil and fold for another minute.

  8. Tear 10 fresh basil leaves and fold for another minute.
  9. Serve immediately on chilled plate or bowl and drizzle four tbs. Olive oil over each plate.


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