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Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) Recipe

Panzanella, or Italian bread salad, is a heartening combination of fresh vegetables and bread cubes soaked in a tangy vinaigrette. This recipe is a classic summer dish that offers a delicious way to use up stale bread and ripe tomatoes. It's perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a quick weeknight side dish.

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) Recipe
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Photos of Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) Recipe

For this recipe, you're likely to find all ingredients in your pantry, except perhaps for the French bread. Aim for a loaf that's a day or two old, as fresh bread can turn mushy once mixed with the dressing. If you can't find French bread, any crusty artisan bread will do. Also, choose ripe, juicy tomatoes which will add to the overall flavor.

Ingredients for Panzanella: Italian Bread Salad Recipe

Tomatoes: Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, they give this salad a juicy and tangy flavor.

Cucumber: Adds a fresh and crunchy texture.

Red Onion: Brings a sharp, yet slightly sweet, flavor.

Basil Leaves: Offers a sweet and peppery taste, a trademark in Italian dishes.

Extra virgin olive oil: Used for dressing; it contributes a fruity and slightly peppery finish.

Olive oil spray: Used to toast the bread, adding a subtle olive flavor.

French Bread: Acts as the base of the salad, soaking up all the delicious flavors.

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

One reader, Kathryne Mccue says:

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This panzanella recipe is a game-changer! The combination of fresh tomatoes, crunchy bread, and zesty olive oil is simply divine. It's a burst of Italian flavors in every bite. I highly recommend trying this recipe for a refreshing and satisfying salad experience. Grazie mille for this culinary delight!

Kathryne Mccue

Techniques Required for Making Panzanella

How to grill bread: Lightly spray the bread with olive oil and season with a little salt. Grill over medium heat until toasted and nicely browned.

How to combine ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to let the flavors combine.

How to toss the salad: Add the bread cubes to the vegetable mixture and toss gently to combine.

How to serve: Portion the panzanella into individual bowls and serve.

How To Make Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

In this panzanella recipe, good crusty bread is grilled until crispy and tossed with tomatoes, cucumber, basil, onion, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Marinate Time: 30 minutes
Total: 55 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 10tomatoes,ripe, medium cut into inch cubes
  • 1cupcucumber,seedless, diced
  • ½red onion,chopped
  • 10basil leaves,chopped
  • 1tbspextra virgin olive oil
  • extra virgin olive oil spray
  • 6ozFrench bread,or a good crusty Italian bread sliced
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper,to taste

Instructions

  1. Lightly spray bread with olive oil and season with a little salt; grill over medium heat, until toasted and nicely browned.

  2. Remove from heat and cut into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

  4. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to let the flavors combine.

  5. Add the bread cubes and toss.

  6. Serve in individual bowls.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 146.95kcal
  • Fat: 7.06g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.03g
  • Trans Fat: 0.00g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 4.65g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.97g
  • Carbohydrates: 18.62g
  • Fiber: 2.67g
  • Sugar: 5.58g
  • Protein: 3.89g
  • Sodium: 472.64mg
  • Calcium: 34.38mg
  • Potassium: 429.83mg
  • Iron: 1.42mg
  • Vitamin A: 67.04µg
  • Vitamin C: 22.12mg

Pro Tip for Perfecting Your Panzanella

When grilling the bread, it's important to keep a close eye on it as it can easily burn due to its low moisture content. Turn the pieces frequently for an even toast and remove them from the grill as soon as they reach a golden brown color. This will ensure your panzanella has a nice crunch without any burnt taste.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Italian Bread Salad

Prep ahead: Chop and prepare the vegetables and bread in advance to save time when assembling the salad.

Use a food processor: Utilize a food processor to quickly chop the vegetables and herbs for the salad.

Multitask: While the bread is grilling, use that time to chop the vegetables and prepare the dressing to maximize efficiency.

Store-bought bread: Consider using store-bought croutons or pre-toasted bread cubes to save time on grilling and cutting the bread.

Make a larger batch: Prepare a larger batch of panzanella and store it in the refrigerator for a quick and convenient meal option throughout the week.

Substitute Ingredients For Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) Recipe

  • tomatoes - Substitute with cherry tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes can provide a similar burst of sweetness and acidity to the dish, and their smaller size makes them easier to incorporate into the salad.

  • cucumber - Substitute with zucchini: Zucchini can offer a similar crisp texture and mild flavor to the salad, and it can be a great alternative if you're looking to add a different twist to the dish.

  • red onion - Substitute with shallots: Shallots can provide a milder, sweeter flavor compared to red onions, and they can blend well with the other ingredients in the salad.

  • basil leaves - Substitute with parsley: Parsley can offer a fresh, herbaceous flavor similar to basil, and it can add a vibrant green color to the salad.

  • extra virgin olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil can provide a similar richness and fruity flavor to the salad, and it's a great source of healthy fats.

  • french bread - Substitute with ciabatta bread: Ciabatta bread can offer a similar chewy texture and absorbency to the salad dressing, making it a suitable alternative for panzanella.

Panzanella Presentation Ideas

  1. Elevate the bread: Toast the bread to perfection, ensuring it is golden brown and crispy, adding a delightful crunch to the dish.

  2. Artful arrangement of tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes with precision, arranging them in a visually appealing manner to showcase their vibrant colors and freshness.

  3. Garnish with basil leaves: Carefully place the basil leaves on top of the salad, adding a pop of green and a touch of elegance to the dish.

  4. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil: Use a steady hand to drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the salad, creating a beautiful sheen and enhancing the flavors.

  5. Season with finesse: Season the salad with a pinch of kosher salt and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, ensuring each bite is perfectly balanced and flavorful.

  6. Serve in elegant bowls: Present the panzanella in exquisite, individual serving bowls, adding a touch of sophistication to the overall presentation.

Essential Tools for Making Italian Bread Salad

  • Grill: A cooking appliance used for grilling the bread to a toasty and browned perfection.
  • Knife: Essential for cutting the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion with precision.
  • Cutting board: Provides a stable surface for chopping and preparing the vegetables and bread.
  • Large bowl: Used for mixing and tossing the salad ingredients together.
  • Tongs: Handy for flipping the bread while grilling.
  • Serving bowls: Used for presenting the panzanella salad when serving.

Storing and Freezing Panzanella: A Guide

  • For the best flavor and texture, enjoy the panzanella immediately after tossing the ingredients together. The bread will be slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, while the vegetables will be fresh and vibrant.

  • If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Keep in mind that the bread will absorb the dressing and become softer over time, changing the texture of the salad.

  • To refresh leftover panzanella, you can:

    • Add a handful of freshly toasted bread cubes to restore some crunch.
    • Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and a splash of vinegar to brighten up the flavors.
    • Toss in some fresh basil leaves for a burst of herbal aroma.
  • Panzanella is not ideal for freezing due to its high water content and the delicate nature of the ingredients. Freezing will cause the vegetables to become mushy and the bread to lose its texture upon thawing.

  • If you want to prepare components in advance:

    • Toast the bread cubes and store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
    • Chop the vegetables and store them separately in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
    • Combine the ingredients and add the dressing just before serving for the best results.

How To Reheat Panzanella Leftovers

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the leftover panzanella on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread is crispy and the tomatoes are heated through. This method will help restore the texture of the bread and enhance the flavors of the salad.

  • For a quicker option, reheat the panzanella in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil to the pan and toss the salad until it's warmed through, about 5-7 minutes. This method will give the bread a slightly crispy texture and help the flavors meld together.

  • If you prefer a softer texture, microwave the leftover panzanella in a microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Be sure to stir the salad halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating. Keep in mind that this method may result in a slightly soggy texture, but the flavors will still be delicious.

  • For a cold option, remove the leftover panzanella from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. This will help the flavors to develop and the olive oil to become more fluid. If the bread seems too dry, drizzle a little extra olive oil and toss the salad before serving.

  • If you find that the leftover panzanella has become too soggy, try refreshing it with some freshly toasted bread cubes. Lightly spray some bread cubes with olive oil, season with salt, and toast them in a skillet or oven until crispy. Add these crispy bread cubes to the leftover salad to restore some texture and crunch.

Interesting Trivia About Panzanella

Panzanella is a traditional Italian bread salad that originated in Tuscany. It was originally a way to use up stale bread and make a refreshing summer dish. The salad is a perfect example of the Italian approach to cooking, which emphasizes using simple, fresh ingredients to create delicious and satisfying meals. The dish is a great way to enjoy the flavors of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and crusty bread, all combined with the richness of extra virgin olive oil. It's a versatile dish that can be customized with different vegetables and herbs, making it a popular choice for summer gatherings and picnics.

Is Making Panzanella at Home Cost-Effective?

This panzanella recipe is highly cost-effective, utilizing simple and affordable ingredients. The abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers makes it budget-friendly, while the addition of bread ensures a filling meal. The use of extra virgin olive oil adds a touch of sophistication without breaking the bank. Overall, this recipe is a solid 9/10 for cost-effectiveness. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10, making it an economical and satisfying choice.

Is Panzanella a Healthy or Unhealthy Dish?

The panzanella recipe is a relatively healthy dish, as it primarily consists of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and basil. These ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential for maintaining good health. The use of extra virgin olive oil adds healthy monounsaturated fats to the dish, which can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. However, the recipe also includes French bread, which is a refined carbohydrate and may not be the healthiest choice for those watching their carb intake or following a low-carb diet.

To make this recipe even healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Use whole grain bread instead of French bread to increase the fiber content and provide more nutrients
  • Add more vegetables to the salad, such as bell peppers, carrots, or leafy greens, to boost the vitamin and mineral content
  • Reduce the amount of bread used in the recipe to lower the overall carbohydrate content
  • Use a light drizzle of olive oil instead of a full tablespoon to decrease the calorie count without compromising the healthy fats
  • Add a source of lean protein, such as grilled chicken or chickpeas, to make the salad more satiating and balanced

Editor's Opinion on This Classic Italian Dish

The panzanella recipe is a classic Italian dish that celebrates the vibrant flavors of summer. The combination of juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and fragrant basil creates a refreshing and satisfying salad. Grilling the bread adds a delightful crunch and smoky flavor, while the red onion adds a subtle bite. The use of extra virgin olive oil enhances the overall richness of the dish. All in all, this recipe is a delightful way to enjoy the bounty of the season in a simple and delicious manner.

Enhance Your Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears roasted to perfection with a crispy garlic parmesan topping.
Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad: Juicy grilled peaches paired with salty prosciutto and mixed greens, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Mango Avocado Salsa: Fresh and vibrant salsa made with ripe mango, creamy avocado, red onion, and cilantro, perfect for scooping with tortilla chips.

Similar Dishes to Panzanella You Might Enjoy

Grilled Vegetable Skewers: Marinate the vegetables in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs before grilling for a delicious and healthy dish.
Mango Salsa Chicken: Top grilled chicken with a refreshing salsa made from ripe mangoes, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice for a burst of tropical flavor.
Butternut Squash Soup: Simmer butternut squash with onions, garlic, and vegetable broth, then blend until smooth for a comforting and creamy soup.
Berry Cobbler: Combine fresh berries with a buttery biscuit topping and bake until golden brown for a delightful and fruity dessert.

Appetizer and Dessert Suggestions for Italian Bread Salad

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs.
Bruschetta: Start your meal with a classic bruschetta, featuring ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze on top of crispy, garlic-rubbed bread slices.
Desserts:
Tiramisu: Indulge in a luscious, creamy dessert with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa powder for a rich finish.
Panna Cotta: Savor a silky, smooth dessert made with sweetened cream and gelatin, topped with a vibrant fruit compote for a burst of flavor in every bite.
Want to share your own twist on this classic Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) Recipe? Head over to the Recipe Sharing section of the forum and let us know how you make yours!
FAQ:
What type of bread is best for making panzanella?
I recommend using a rustic Italian bread, such as ciabatta or sourdough. These types of bread have a hearty texture that holds up well when mixed with the other ingredients.
Can I make panzanella ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the vegetables and bread ahead of time, but I recommend adding the bread cubes to the salad just before serving to maintain their texture and prevent them from becoming too soggy.
Can I customize the ingredients in the panzanella salad?
Absolutely! Panzanella is a versatile dish, so feel free to add or substitute ingredients based on your preferences. You can incorporate ingredients like bell peppers, olives, or even different types of herbs to personalize the salad to your liking.
How long can I store leftover panzanella?
Leftover panzanella can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Keep in mind that the bread will continue to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients, so the texture may change slightly over time.
Is panzanella a suitable dish for a picnic or outdoor gathering?
Yes, panzanella is an excellent choice for a picnic or outdoor gathering. It's a refreshing and portable dish that can be made ahead of time, allowing the flavors to meld together for a delicious and convenient option for outdoor dining.

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