Ultimate Panzanella: The Best Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad

Tuscan Panzanella Salad Recipe - Fresh Tomato and Bread Salad

Transform ripe summer tomatoes and crusty bread into a mouthwatering Italian masterpiece with this classic panzanella recipe. Perfect for hot days and garden-fresh produce!

When the mercury soars and your tomato plants are bursting with juicy goodness, it’s time to whip up a refreshing panzanella salad. This Tuscan treasure isn’t just any tomato salad – it’s a celebration of crusty bread soaked in vibrant flavors and summer’s bounty.

While modern panzanella showcases ripe tomatoes, its roots trace back centuries before tomatoes even arrived in Europe. Originally, this humble dish was a clever way for thrifty Italians to use up stale bread, combining it with onions, cucumbers, and other available vegetables.

Today’s panzanella has evolved into the perfect summer meal – light enough for scorching afternoons yet satisfying enough for dinner. Let’s dive into crafting the ultimate version of this Italian classic!

The Secret to Perfectly Crispy-Soft Bread

Forget waiting for bread to go stale – we’ve cracked the code for the ideal panzanella texture. The key? Lightly toasting fresh bread cubes. This creates a delightful contrast: crisp edges that gradually soften as they soak up the flavorful dressing, while maintaining a tender interior.

A quick 15-minute toast in a 300°F (150°C) oven is all it takes to achieve bread perfection. This method works wonders even if you’re starting with slightly stale bread – it’ll refresh beautifully once combined with the other ingredients.

Tomato Magic: Intensifying Flavor Through Salt

To elevate your panzanella from good to spectacular, we employ a simple but crucial step: salting the tomatoes. This process draws out excess liquid through osmosis, concentrating the tomato flavor and preventing soggy bread.

Don’t discard that tomato juice, though! We’ll use it to create an incredibly rich dressing, infusing every bite of the salad with intense tomato essence.

Dressing to Impress: The Perfect Panzanella Vinaigrette

Our dressing strikes the ideal balance between simplicity and sophistication. We start with the reserved tomato juices, then add:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil for richness
  • White or red wine vinegar for brightness
  • Minced shallot and garlic for depth
  • A touch of Dijon mustard to emulsify and add complexity

The result? A vinaigrette that perfectly complements the bread and vegetables without overpowering them.

Panzanella: Your New Summer Staple

This salad is more than just a side dish – it’s a celebration of summer’s flavors. As the toasted bread cubes mingle with the tomatoes and absorb the dressing, the textures and tastes evolve, creating a dish that’s even more delicious as it sits.

Whether you’re looking for a light lunch, a stunning starter for an al fresco dinner party, or a way to use up that garden abundance, this panzanella recipe has you covered. Let’s get cooking!

Ultimate Panzanella: Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad


  • 2 1/2 pounds (1.1kg) mixed ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more for seasoning (use half as much if using table salt)
  • 3/4 pound (340g) ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2–inch cubes (about 6 cups bread cubes)
  • 10 tablespoons (150ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1/2 ounce) packed basil leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Place chopped tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons (8g) kosher salt and gently toss. Let the tomatoes drain at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, occasionally giving them a gentle stir. This step concentrates their flavor and releases juices for our dressing.
  2. While the tomatoes drain, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) with the rack in the center position. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil until evenly coated. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. The bread should be crisp and firm but not browned. Set aside to cool.
  3. Transfer the colander with tomatoes to the sink. In the bowl of tomato juice, whisk together the shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup (120ml) olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the toasted bread cubes, drained tomatoes, and prepared dressing. Add the chopped basil leaves and gently toss everything to coat. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Let the salad rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally to help the bread absorb the dressing and flavors.


For best results, choose a hearty, open-structured bread like ciabatta or sourdough. This allows the bread to better absorb the flavorful dressing while maintaining some texture.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
390 Calories
25g Fat
37g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 390
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 688mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 27mg 135%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 550mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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