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This colorful panzanella recipe is a classic Italian bread salad, featuring crusty bread, ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil.

Panzanella recipe

Summer always seems to slip away, doesn’t it? August is nearly gone, and we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface of our summer checklist. Trip to beach in Michigan? Berry picking at a local farm? Guess it will wait until next year. But one thing we have done: made this panzanella recipe. Panzanella is an Italian bread salad, and it’s everything summer! Ripe tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, and garlic are mixed with crunchy bread and a garlicky vinaigrette into an incredible salad. My, oh my. It’s a family favorite, over here.

Related: 15 Best Fresh Tomato Recipes

Panzanella recipe

How to make this panzanella recipe

Luckily we have another month of tomato season here in Indiana, so we can continue to enjoy the tastes of summer. When ran across some lovely multi-colored cherry tomatoes and bell peppers at our local farmers market, and were inspired to make a panzanella recipe.

What is panzanella? Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that combines dried, crusty bread squares with fresh vegetables and a vinaigrette. It’s a genius idea for using up old bread, and extraordinarily delicious. You can use any fresh veggies you have on hand. The traditional vegetables used in a panzanella recipe are tomatoes, peppers, red onion, and sometime cucumber. Our version of a panzanella looks even more vibrant than most because we used multi-colored cherry tomatoes and three colors of bell peppers.

Here are the basic steps on how to make this panzanella recipe (see below the full recipe):

  1. Toast the bread cubes: Cut bread into cubes and toss it with olive oil and black pepper. Roast the cubes for about 7 minutes at 450 degrees until they’re golden brown.
  2. Chop the vegetables: Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Here we used multi-colored cherry tomatoes and bell peppers, and thinly sliced red onions.
  3. Make the vinaigrette: Mix up a simple vinaigrette: ours uses olive oil, sherry vinegar, and minced garlic.
  4. Mix together and allow to stand: Mix all the ingredients together and let them stand for at least 15 minutes, so that all the flavors can meld. Then the salad is best served immediately. As expected, the bread becomes soggy over time, so leftovers aren’t the best. Try to eat it the day it’s made! (To make it in advance, keep all the components separate before serving.

We used this recipe to help break in our new kitchen with some friends. What’s your favorite summertime dish?

Bread for panzanella
A panzanella is the perfect recipe to use up crusty bread! Like a few day old homemade sourdough

Get the best cherry tomatoes you can find

Like most simple recipes, the flavor of this panzanella recipe is dependent on the quality of ingredients. It’s best to buy ripe, in season cherry tomatoes for this one. If it’s not tomato season, you can sometimes find tomatoes grown in a greenhouse (hydroponic) at the grocery store that have decent flavor. You’ll just want the highest in quality of cherry tomatoes for this recipe to shine!

Buying local tomatoes helps support your local farmers: so if there’s a chance to do so, we heartily recommend it. Please do not even think about using off-season, mealy pink tomatoes. The flavor here is 100% dependent on the quality of your tomato!

How to grow basil

The best fresh basil: home grown!

Basil is easy to grow at home: and it’s very hardy as long as you place it in full sun! Basil adds an aromatic flavor to such a wide variety of recipes, and growing it at home is much cheaper than buying it at the store. If you’re looking to grow your own basil plant, we have a step by step guide here: How to Grow Basil.

Looking for easy potluck recipes?

This panzanella recipe would be great for a potluck (as long as it doesn’t sit out for hours!). Here are a few more easy potluck recipes:

This panzanella recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Panzanella Recipe


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x

Description

This colorful panzanella recipe is a classic Italian bread salad, featuring crusty bread, ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups artisan-style bread, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 pint multi-colored cherry tomatoes
  • 3 bell peppers (one each yellow, red, green)
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Slice the bread into cubes. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Spread in a single layer and bake until golden brown, about 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Dice the bell peppers. Thinly slice the red onion. Mince the garlic. Thinly slice the basil (chiffonade).
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the sherry vinegar, and garlic. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a creamy emulsion forms. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the chopped vegetables, dressing, basil, and toasted bread. (If making in advance, add the toasted bread last to avoid becoming soggy.) Allow to stand about 15 minutes for the flavors to meld, then serve immediately. (Leftovers are delicious, but the bread becomes soggy after a few hours.)

Notes

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Looking for more grilling ideas?

This panzanella recipe would also be a fabulous side dish for a grilled meal. Here are a few more grilling ideas for creating a menu:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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10 Comments

  1. Ashley says:

    Absolutely gorgeous styling in that photo. Love the bright colors and of course the salad sounds fantastic.

    1. Sonja says:

      Thanks, Ashley!

  2. Courtney Jones says:

    What a great salad to end the summer off with :) So lovely!

  3. Christy@SweetandSavoring says:

    Yum! I keep admiring recipes for panzanella and still need to make one myself. Glad I have a bell pepper waiting- and our tomatoes are still producing here in NY, as well :)

  4. Cookie and Kate says:

    Wow, this is a gorgeous salad, you guys. I can’t believe August is coming to a close, either. I can’t wait to see more pics of your new kitchen!

  5. Allie @ The Nutritional Epiphany says:

    YES! The color in this is so gorgeous. Now is the perfect time in the Midwest for flavorful tomatoes that were grown outdoors! I’ve been looking around for inspiration for how to use up all of the beautiful cherry tomatoes that are overflowing in my garden.
    I had it on my summer list to visit Michigan too, but I didn’t get to it either. We’re in the same boat!

  6. Arthur in the Garden! says:

    wonderful!

  7. Tieghan says:

    Oh it is so pretty and sounds so good! I love all the colors and the crispy crusty bread! Perfect way to send out summer!

  8. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This salad is stunning! And so colourful – love it!

  9. Emma says:

    Panzanella is so good, though I’ve only ever had it out, not made it at home. We have lots and lots of cherry tomatoes (orange + red) ripening fast so this looks the perfect way to use them! Thank you for sharing!