A panzanella salad is basically a bread salad from Italy. It’s super light and refreshing. One of those “perfect summer side dishes” because you make it and then let it sit at room temperature. Not to mention that the only cooking involved is baking or grilling. How awesome is that? During the summer when tomatoes start reaching their peak (July, August and maybe 1 week into September) is the perfect time to make the salad. The tomatoes are juicy and sweet. The red bell peppers are sweet and crispy. The basil is refreshing. I mean, the panzanella salad might possibly be the best summer salad out there!
Couple tips and ideas I use with making my panzanella salad:
- I sometimes like to grill the bread instead of baking it because it lends a slightly smoky flavor to it. You just cut big slices, brush with olive oil and grill over medium heat.
- Tossing in some mozzarella cheese chunks is oh so yummy and gives you a bit of a caprese salad taste.
- Let the salad sit after adding the vinegar for at least 20 minutes but don’t make it 4 hours ahead. The bread will eventually get soggy.
- Don’t by stingy on the basil. Just don’t.
- You can get chop, dice and bake the bread a day before if you are entertaining. Just keep everything separate until adding the vinegar and oil.
As long as you stick with the tips, you are going to have the best summer Italian bread salad out there!
Summer Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
- 1/2 loaf or about 5 cups of ciabatta bread
- 3 medium heirloom tomatoes
- 1 small red onion
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 small head of fennel
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of fresh, chopped basil (2-3 packs)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Cut the bread into bite size cubes. Toss with some olive oil and place on a couple of baking sheets. Put in the oven and bake until crispy. About 20 minutes or so.
- While the bread is toasting, start dicing the vegetables into bite size pieces.
- Mince the garlic.
- Once the bread is crisp, pull from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- Toss with the vegetables, basil, olive oil and vinegar. Use your hands to really get it all mixed together well.
- Let sit for 20 minutes before serving
Balanced, High Fiber, Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Alcohol Free