Panzanella

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that’s great for summer entertaining!

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!There are few things in the culinary world that can beat a well-made baguette.  You know the kind I’m talking about.  They’re crispy and hard on the outside, but once you tear into ’em, the inside is nice and soft.  Our local grocery store makes several types of baguettes.  The cheaper version is mere white sandwich bread hiding in a baguette shape.  But if you splurge a bit, you can get one of the nice long French baguettes with that chewy crust and tender crumb.  I could eat those baguettes all by myself.

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!To be fair, we have actually eaten those baguettes by themselves.  One of our favorite treats is to pick up a good baguette along with some sort of soft cheese.  Any triple creme from France is usually a good bet.  It’s essentially like spreading soft butter on bread.  Laura recently picked up a triple creme at a local farmer’s market that was made with goat’s milk and cow’s cream.  It also has a “bloomy” (aka stinky) rind.  I can’t wait to dig into that one!

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!Panzanella

But back to the bread.  Panzanella is a simple salad of Italian origins, and it relies heavily on stale bread.  Now we don’t often have a problem with stale bread around here.  I just love bread too much to ever let it get stale!  Whenever we make panzanella, I usually start with a small baguette, and then toast large ‘croutons’ that then get mixed with the tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers.

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!Here’s the thing about panzanella.  You could technically use larger store-bought croutons.  But the bread cubes in panzanella aren’t really croutons.  They’re crispy on the outside, but they’re soft on the inside.  In fact, I could barely make myself stop eating the toasted bread cubes as I was constructing the salad for these photos.  “One cube for the salad.  One cube for David.  One cube for the salad.  Two cubes for David.”

Aside from the toasted cubes of bread, panzanella uses a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs.  Garden fresh tomatoes.  A crunchy cucumber.  A couple of chopped bell peppers.  A very thinly sliced red onion.  And a handful of fresh basil leaves.  That’s it.  Aside from toasting the bread, this entire recipe could be ready in about 10 minutes.  It’s packed with fresh summer flavors!  And since panzanella uses a traditional vinaigrette dressing, it makes for a great picnic side dish as there’s no need to keep the dressing chilled.

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!As noted above, the key to making an excellent panzanella is the bread.  Avoid white, fluffy loaves.  You want a good crispy, chewy baguette.  (If you go with the softer, white loaf, then the bread cubes will turn mushy.)  Similarly, I recommend tossing the vinaigrette into the salad right before you serve it.  All in all, though, panzanella is an excellent side dish that would pair well with all sorts of grilled entrees.  We make this at least once a month during the summer months.  We’d probably make it more, but I eat all the bread before it makes it to the salad.  Oops.

Did you make this Panzanella at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!

Panzanella

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!
5 from 9 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 236kcal

Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 small French baguette cut into 1” cubes (~5-6 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 Roma tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 English cucumber peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper seeded and cut into 1” pieces
  • ½ small red onion very thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves torn
  • Parmesan cheese for finishing

Instructions

For the Vinaigrette

  • Using a medium mixing bowl, add all ingredients; stir until well combined.

For the Salad

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Using a large bowl, add bread cubes, olive oil and salt; toss until well combined. Spread bread cubes evenly onto a sheet pan.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until cubes just begin to turn light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Using a large bowl, add toasted bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, onion and torn basil leaves; toss until well combined.
  • Add vinaigrette; toss until well combined.
  • Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours before serving.
  • Before serving, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Packed with fresh veggies and perfectly toasted bread cubes, Panzanella is a classic side dish that's great for summer entertaining!

Looking for more tasty summer side dish recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!Caponata

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad

Overwhelmed with zucchini from the garden?  These Zucchini Hushpuppies are a fun and tasty way to use those extra zukes!Zucchini Hushpuppies

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36 Comments

  1. Lovely salad, David! I used to live near a gourmet food store that sold THE best, freshly-baked baguettes. They also sold sourdough batards, which, if I understand it correctly, is simply a short baguette. I used to buy one, and eat it out of hand, plain, on the way home from the store!

    1. That’s my understanding about a batard, too, Jeff. I think they might be a little more “pointy” on the ends, but they are more or less a small baguette. (And, yes, pointy is a super-scientific baking term.) Either way, I’m with ya. I could eat an entire baguette easily. Add some soft cheese? Oh man, that’s my kinda meal.

  2. Beautiful! I love panzanella. And I love a good baguette, which is hard to find where I live. I’d have to put way more vinegar in that vinaigrette for this salad, but LOVE your recipe.

    1. A good baguette really is worth its weight in gold. It’s hard to find bakeries that make good ones. As I noted in the post, our grocery store sells 2 versions – the one version is basically white bread. Shameful. But the other (more expensive) version is actually quite tasty! Perfect for making homemade croutons for this Panzanella salad!

    1. A good loaf of crusty bread is pretty much always on my list of things I crave. I could seriously eat that for dinner by itself. That’s probably why I like this Panzanella salad so much – it’s a tasty excuse to eat a bunch of awesome bread! Thanks so much, Kelly! Hope you and the family have a great weekend ahead. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    We adore panzanella in this house, David. And yours looks totally mouthwatering. I’m a little jealous of that soft ‘stinky’ cheese you have waiting for you – what a treat!

    1. A good stinky cheese is a thing of beauty! The childhood version of me would’ve never touched something like that, but now I could make an entire meal out of it!

  4. Oh I love a good tomato bruschetta (No worries – I’ve thoroughly read the post. But what is a Panzanella? It’s technically a deconstructed tomato bruschetta! :)) There is sometimes amazing in the combination of bread, tomatoes, and olive oil; all these delightful juices and flavours combined. And there’s a thing. Last year I made Panzanella with brioche bread, as it was recommended in one YouTube video, and it turned fantastic – slightly sweet and rich brioche was an excellent addition. You should totally try too!

    1. Hmmm…you might be onto something here, Ben. Panzanella does indeed have a lot of similarities to bruschetta. I guess that makes sense as Panzanella has Greek origins and bruschetta has Italian origins. I dunno. Either way, I love them both! Interesting tip about Panzanella with brioche. I’m putting that on my list of things to try before the summer produce season is over! Thanks for that reminder.

  5. 5 stars
    This is one of the best salads ever, David! I love it – it is so colourful, full wonderful texture and taste – perfect for the warm weather!

    1. I know you guys aren’t having warm weather (yet), but it’s coming, Alex! (Of course, that means our cold weather is coming…bah.) We are overflowing with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, so I’m thinking it’s about time for another round of this Panzanella salad! 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend ahead, my friend!

    1. Panzanella is one of my favorite summer recipes, and I always think about it in August…probably because that’s when our garden is overflowing with fresh tomatoes! Thanks, Kathy!

  6. 5 stars
    They say a good artisan bread is the first skill of a kitchen craftsmanship that you are tested on. I love freshly baked French breads and have fancied making a few times too. The salad vegetables that you have used look vibrant and all fresh, summery. Loved how you have added basil to this one. I usually use chopped cilantro. But basil sounds more profound to match with the baguettes. Thanks

    1. You make an excellent point here, Hasin. The ability to make a good artisan loaf of bread is a challenge. But a good loaf of bread can make such a difference in recipes (or just eaten by itself)! This salad is perfect for summer, and it’s pretty simple to make a big bowl, too. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  7. Ohhh I LOVE Panazanella David, and your recipe here looks particularly delicious! I agree, you’ve got to make the croutons yourself. Really wish I had this gorgeous salad in front of me now, those croutons and veggies are making me too hungry. !!! 😋

    1. I’m with ya, Shannon! Panzanella is one of my favorites, too, and I always crave it in August…probably because that’s when our garden is overflowing with fresh tomatoes. Such an easy and delicious summer dish! Thanks so much, and I hope you and the family are doing well!

  8. 5 stars
    I can totally understand your obsession with bread and baguettes in particular, David! When I was pregnant with the twins, I went through a phase when all I wanted to eat (and I mean, I had this pretty much for lunch and dinner for about a month) was fresh baguette, spread with some mushed up avocado and a bit of garlic. It was my idea of heaven. I was not surprised when the kids started eating bread and gravitated naturally towards baguettes. They’re just so ridicilously good. And this salad looks like a fabulous way to enjoy them, even if they’re past their prime (we usually don’t have that problem either but those Costco baguettes which come in a three pack occasionally do not get eaten) so this would be a perfect use for them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hmmm…I wonder if I’m pregnant then? Haha! I could eat a good crusty baguette as a meal by itself. Yum! As you mentioned, we rarely have stale bread around here, so when I’m craving Panzanella I usually buy a loaf and purposefully let it get stale. Panzanella is such a delicious summer dish with the fresh tomatoes and veggies. 🙂

    1. You and me both, Nicole! A good baguette (which can be surprisingly hard to find), some good cheese and a glass or two of wine is my kinda jam. We’ll sometimes do this on weekend nights after Robbie goes to bed while we watch Netflix. (We’re wild and crazy people over here…haha!)

  9. Lil S will agree with you in the “majesty “ of the simple baguette! While I will marvel at the majesty of this panzenella! I’ve never made panzenella – and am so intrigued- it’s so colorful, easy, and flavorful!

    1. Oh, you should totally make panzanella this summer, Shashi! It’s such an easy recipe, and it really highlights the fresh tomatoes + other veggies that are plentiful right now. Oh yeah, and there’s that delicious baguette in there, too. 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    I am a huge bread lover, especially good bread. I’ve become a little obsessed lately and now we have more bread in our freezer than what we can eat at one time. This panzanella salad looks like a delicious use of that bread. Plus, who doesn’t love bread and tomatoes together! Delish, my friend 🙂

    1. Haha…I totally understand the bread obsession, Dawn. A good loaf of bread is really hard to beat. This panzanella is a great way to use it, too…if you can manage to not it that bread by itself! 🙂

    1. Panzanella really is a great summer side dish! It tastes even better with fresh tomatoes, and we have a ton of those right now – even though the mornings are starting to get a bit chilly here.

    1. Thank so much, Karen! We have SO many tomatoes coming out of the garden right now. All summer, it was like “not yet, not yet, not yet” and now it’s like “NOW! Tomato overload!” 🙂 Panzanella is a tasty way to use ’em up for sure.

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