Tuscan Panzanella Salad

Sunday, July 28, 2019
Oh, the taste of freshness is right here with basil, garlic, tomato, and cucumber, over a soft inside and crunchy outside, a delicious salad with parmesan herb bread.

This is a Tuscan salad from Italy (Florence to Rome) that Grandma made every summer in Upstate New York back in the 1960s.

I grew up in a fresh herb and vegetable garden so we made this salad very often.

In those days money was tight and we had to rely on eating frugally, as the peasants did in the 16th century and through depression times.

This was a most welcomed salad with freshly made bread after a few days old that got stale and garden vegetables.

For me, the best of memories of this was my dad working in a bread bakery so we would have lots of stale bread to add at the end of the week.

Besides having this delightful salad to use that bread up grandma would make her Bread Pudding for dessert with some for a treat.

This was always a treat dad looked forward to and now as years went by, it was a beautiful memory I still cherish and make in tradition.

A true banquet and perfect addition any time of the day.

Scroll down for this printable recipe!

tomatoes, cubed toasted bread in a panzanella salad

Panzanella is Centuries-Old!

A 16th-century style dish from Italy, actually another peasant dish that really had endless variations.

Crusty day-old country bread which was stale bread then soaked in water for about 15 minutes, crumbled by hand to drain the water out then seasoned, added garden vegetables (whatever they had)with the regional olive oil and red vinegar combinations for dressing.

The name came from referring to a big bowl full of fresh tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers with the addition of some stale bread cubes of any kind,  tossed in an old-style vinegar dressing.

Economical yes, but quite delicious and it is appreciated by many folks today like us that make it often.

this is a salad in a white plate with  fresh basil, cucumbers, cubed mozzarella, toasted bread cubes and tomatoes all fresh

Suggestions and Additions

  1. use your favorite tomatoes that are ripe beefsteak, plum, heirloom,
  2. add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the dressing ingredients for a zesty flavor if you like it
  3. fresh herbs are always the best choice however dried in a pinch when not in season
  4. let the salad sit for an hour before serving to absorb the dressing
  5. salad is best tasting served fresh as the tomatoes and bread will be overwhelming and soggy in flavors and texture
  6. Artisan bread makes a great salad the holes pool the dressing inside perfectly
  7. cucumbers, onions, celery, julienned carrots, slaw style vegetables, artichoke hearts, cubed cheeses, diced peppers, and radishes, can be added (those are not included in any original recipe)

fresh plum tomatoes


  • any bread can be used just remember to toast the bread do not overbake the cubes they need to stay soft in the center, not like croutons
  • always salt the tomatoes lightly then drain in a colander to produce an intense flavor
  • use very ripe tomatoes
  • keep the salad simple
  • however, you can add whatever you like to it and make it your own recipe but remember this dish was invented by peasants and the authentic recipe kept the salad with vegetables and bread with dressing, not  with those additions mentioned

this is fresh peppers, tomatoes and stick bread for panzanella salad ingredients

Ingredients You Will Need

  • cucumber
  • large, beefsteak or vine ripe tomatoes
  • fresh garlic
  • fresh basil leaves
  • parsley
  • hearty crusty bread
  • dressing:
  • garlic freshly minced
  • balsamic vinegar preferred or red wine vinegar or more to taste
  • white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil or more to taste
  • kosher salt or regular
  • black pepper
  • honey

homemade dressing with Italian spices and herbs

More Recipes You May Like:

Beet Salad

Watermelon Salad

Butternut Squash Salad

Rustic Homemade Bread


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Panzanella Easy Side Dish or Meal

This is more like crunchy garlic bread not like croutons.

Soft pillowy inside and crunchy outside.

Then when mixed with this tasty dressing, the bread is saturated with an addictive flavor that will be etched in your mind forever!

this is a salad in a white plate with  fresh basil, cucumbers, cubed mozzarella, toasted bread cubes and tomatoes all fresh

Tuscan Panzanella Salad

prep time: 10 Mcook time: 20 Mtotal time: 30 M
Grandma made this with stale bread, vinegar oil, garden tomatoes, and cucumbers in the 1960s. I have since added a few things along the way, but the good old-fashioned Authentic way is still the best of the best in flavors all summer long. Tuscan-style Panzanella Salad is perfect for a healthy lunch.


  • Update Version of Panzanella Salad:
  • 1 cucumber chopped into small cubes
  • 2 or more large, beefsteak or vine ripe tomatoes cubed ( I prefer plum tomatoes)
  • 4 cloves of finely minced fresh garlic
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves torn in small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  •  Note: Authentic Original  Recipe calls for chopped red or white onion, I do not add them but if you want the 16th-century style recipe, add them to the bowl.
  • Cubed and Toasted Bread ( see my recipe below)
  • Optional additions (not Authentic):  fresh whole milk mozzarella cubes, olives, onions,  chopped peppers, shredded  chopped vegetables like carrots, herb coated cubed bread
  • Dressing
  • 3 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons good grade balsamic vinegar preferred or red wine vinegar or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Optional dressing ingredient: 1/4 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, which is updated and I do use it in my recipes
  • Cut Up The Bread in Cubes
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, about 6-8 cups cubed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular or kosher salt
  • My additions:
  • 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, fresh dried, oregano, parsley, basil
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese or more


How to cook Tuscan Panzanella Salad

  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees
  2. Cube and cut up tomatoes and cucumbers and any vegetables into a medium-size bowl, (fold in the mozzarella cubes if using set aside).
  3. In a small bowl combine the wine, vinegar, (mustard, if using) pepper, honey, garlic, salt, cayenne, and olive oil.
  4. Whisk all these ingredients with a wire whisk until it is well mixed and slightly thickened.
  5. Pour over vegetables in the medium bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours before serving.
  6. Place the cubed bread into 1-inch pieces and toss it into a large plastic zip-lock bag.
  7. Adding olive oil and salt, garlic powder, basil, parsley, oregano, and cheese.
  8. Or again, leave cubes plain if you want unflavored bread cubes like the original and just add the olive oil for toasting them.
  9. Toss all cubes until they are well coated. 
  10. Place on an oil sprayed foil or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
  11. Place in a 430-degree oven for 6-8 minutes or until the edges of the bread are golden and crispy but not hard like croutons.
  12. Let cool.
  13. Note: if you prefer croutons use this recipe and just cook longer on 300 degrees for around 1 hour turning constantly or plain toasted bread omit the seasonings.
Fat (grams)
Sat. Fat (grams)
Carbs (grams)
Panzanella salad, Italian Tuscan salad, tomato salad
salad, healthy foods, Tuscan recipes
Created using The Recipes Generator

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Try Some Of Our Other Favorite Salad Recipes

Festive Potato Salad
Southwest Potato Salad
German Potato Salad

this is a salad in a white plate with  fresh basil, cucumbers, cubed mozzarella, toasted bread cubes and tomatoes all fresh

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2012. It was edited and re-published in 2019.