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This recipe for Panzanella – a fabulous salad made with bread, tomatoes and other vegetables – is one of our all-time favorite, go-to recipes for summertime barbeques. We brought this salad to a barbeque at our neighbors’ house over Memorial Day weekend and – as always – it was a huge hit!
Panzanella, is a classic salad of bread and tomatoes, with origins in the Tuscany region of Italy. Originally created as a way to use up stale bread, this salad also showcases the fresh flavors and colors of ripe tomatoes, fresh red and yellow bell peppers, cucumbers and red onion. But what really brings all of the wonderful flavors together in this panzanella is a terrific vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, garlic and champagne vinegar that is just perfect – in my opinion – for this fresh salad!
This recipe, originally from one of my favorite cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, is great for feeding a crowd at a barbeque or other summertime event. It’s best served about half an hour after you’ve tossed the salad with the vinaigrette so the flavors have time to blend together and bread cubes absorb just a little bit of the wonderful vinaigrette.
We hope you enjoy this panzanella as much as we – and our neighbors – do!
For the Toasted Bread
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small boule (or half of a large boule) cut into 1-inch cubes (approximately 6 cups)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Vinaigrette
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 20 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
To Toast the Bread
- In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil and then add the bread cubes. Sprinkle with salt and cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, until the bread is toasted and golden brown (about 7-10 minutes.) Remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the Vinaigrette
- In a small bowl, add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together until well blended.
To finish the Salad
- About 30 minutes before serving, in a large salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber slices, red and yellow peppers, onion, basil and capers.
- Add the bread cubes and vinaigrette and toss to coat.
- Allow the bread to sit for 30 minutes before serving for the best flavor.
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