Let’s talk about the beautiful thing that is panzanella. Have you ever heard of it before? Ever eaten it? If you don’t know what it is, allow me to drop some knowledge on you…panzanella is literally bread salad. Bread. Salad. Italy, you really, REALLY came through for us here, friend.
Panzanella (no big shocker here) is one of my all time favorite salads. I’ve made lots of different kinds, my first ever being my gurl Ina Garten’s (click here for that AMAZING recipe), which allowed me to discover the deliciousness of this wonderful thing that is BREAD SALAD.
Another one of my favorite things in the entire world? Bruschetta. In fact, this bruschetta recipe is one of my most popular recipes on the whole blog, and it is one of my favorites – huge crowd pleaser! So, why not combine the two? The flavors of bruschetta + the concept of panzanella.
And let me just TELL YOU, peeps. It is heaven in a salad bowl. It is summer on a fork. It is the combination of two of the most delicious things the food world has to offer – bruschetta and panzanella salad. This NEEDS to happen in your house as the last weeks of summer approach!
Celebrate the ending of this beautiful season with fresh, ripe tomatoes + toasty, buttery bread + the perfect touch of balsamic vinaigrette.
The wonderful thing about this salad is how wrongly delicious each individual element is. We must spend adequate time drooling over each:
- The bread. Oh LAWWDDD, the bread. It’s not helping that I’m hungry while writing this, but lemme just tell you ’bout this bread. We dice up about half a loaf of ciabatta into small, bite sized cubes. Then we melt half a stick of butter + a few swirls of olive oil in a pan with a few crushed cloves of garlic. When the garlic is lightly simmering in the pan, we add our bread, toss it to coat in the buttery, garlicky mixture, and let the bread get niiiiiiiice and toasty and perfect. You guys, I must insist you try not to eat half of these crunchy little cubes as they toast away in your pan. It is imperative that you have a large amount left for your salad…but I’m not going to be mad if you sneak a few. I had to use extreme levels of self control to keep my crouton consumption count low.
- The tomatoes. Use whatever you have here! Photographed is a mixture of heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes from the grocery store, and a few cherry tomatoes from our garden. I basically just used a mish mash of whatever I had at my house. We slice these tomatoes into bite sized chunks, about the same size as our bread, and then we season them with salt and pepper. To the tomatoes, we add about half of our delicious balsamic vinaigrette, which is a combo of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, and a touch of dijon mustard. The tomatoes marinate in this dressing while the bread toasts. So much FLAVA.
To assemble, we toss the bread in with the tomatoes, add extra balsamic vinaigrette to taste, and throw a handful of sliced basil in. The flavorful juices from the tomatoes + the dressing soak into the bread, and everything just works together perfectly. It’s just good food, plain and simple.
So, traditionally panzanella’s bread is soaked in the dressing and juices from the salad for about half an hour. You are supposed to let it all rest and sit together until the bread has absorbed everything.
I depart from tradition a bit and prefer to eat this salad right after the bread has been tossed in; that way the little cubes still keep some of their crunch despite the fact that the juices from the tomato and the dressing still have a little time to soak into each delectable cube.
You can either be a bit non-traditional like me, or you can go straight up Tuscan and let it allllll soak together. If I’m being honest with you, either way will be so delicious you will barely be able to contain yourself while devouring aggressively. If you are getting a disturbing mental image of me inhaling this salad at max speed, your mental image is probably shockingly accurate.
That is all. Good day.Print
Bruschetta Panzanella Salad
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
For the tomatoes and bread
- 5 cups tomatoes, diced into bite sized pieces (you can use any kind of tomatoes here – I used a mix of heirloom and cherry)
- 4 cups diced ciabatta bread
- 1/4 cup butter
- A tablespoon or two of olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- A big handful of sliced basil (more or less depending on preference)
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add your diced tomatoes to a large salad bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper
- Assemble your dressing (whisk all dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake together in a jar). Add about half the dressing to the tomatoes and toss to combine. Allow the tomatoes to marinate while you make your croutons
- Over medium low – medium heat, add 1/4 cup of butter, a few swirls of olive oil (a tablespoon or two if you want to measure), and your garlic cloves to a large skillet (I love using a cast iron for this!)
- When the butter is melted and your garlic is softly simmering, add your bread cubes and toss until they are all evenly coated. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the bread out in an even-ish layer and let the bread toast, tossing/stirring relatively often, spreading out in an even layer the best you can after each toss
- Remove the garlic cloves if they are turning brown
- When all the cubes of bread are evenly golden brown, add them to your tomatoes, throw in your basil, add your remaining dressing to taste (I didn’t use quite all of it), and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately!
I like to serve this salad right after it’s tossed, but traditionally, you let it all set together for about half an hour so the bread soaks up all the dressing and juices from the salad. I like my bread to still retain a little crunch, but you can do either! Both will be delicious.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 282
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 193 mg
- Fat: 20 g
- Saturated Fat: 7 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 23 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Cholesterol: 20 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
If you want more bruschetta, check out this delicious bruschetta recipe! It’s a crowd pleaser and one of my all time most popular recipes!