Bruschetta salad or an elevated Panzanella Salad recipe, the most delicious Italian bread salad you’ll ever taste. Two of my most favorite things in life: tomatoes and bread making a beautiful delicious mess! Mangia Bene!
Bruschetta Panzanella Salad
A Tuscan bread salad, a peasant style dish traditionally made with stale day old bread in an attempt to reduce waste and make a meal of things after a long day in the fields. But why settle for stale when you can have it bruschetta style?! I bet you don’t even have real stale bread that needs soaking in your kitchen right now, do you?! And listen, It’s perfectly okay if your Nonna didn’t make it like this, she doesn’t need to know.. but this way is just better! Whaat…?! I said what I said and I won’t take it back.
Because grilled bread rubbed with garlic, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and tossed with the best of summer’s juicy heirloom tomatoes gives life meaning! And the only way stale bread could find any redemption is by taking a swim into a bowl of my Zuppa Toscana, minestrone, escarole soup or a pot of white beans. Even then, if you can choose bruschetta then you know what you need to do.
About the Bread
You want thick slices of Italian crusty bread or hearty spelt bread grilled until charred on both sides with a subtle smokiness layer permeating through to the soft center. The grill marks will act much like a grater for the garlic clove to be rubbed against until disintegrated. You could never do that with stale bread.
To honor the rustic soul of the authentic Panzanella, make sure to use your hands and tear the bread into bite size pieces straight into the bowl. Then toss with the juicy fragrant tomatoes, red onion or shallots, capers and basil.
The Panzanella Salad Dressing
It’s the perfect balance between red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Traditionally you’d just drizzle the oil over all the salad components, then hit it with a splash of the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt flakes. Toss, coat, taste, repeat! Then let it sit on the kitchen counter for 15 to 20 minutes for the tomatoes to start releasing some of their juices and get soaked into the garlicky bruschetta bites.
The Best Tomatoes for Salad
Although not technically a tomato salad, colorful juicy fragrant heirloom tomatoes in different shapes and sizes are without a doubt the glue that brings this dish together. Go for whatever is having a moment at the farmers market or in your own garden. Stay away from grape tomatoes, their skins are way too tough and not much juices to make an impact here. Needless to say, this is not the place to even bring up canned tomatoes.
Recipe Tips + FAQ
- Add Ins – To build on the classic concept of Panzanella you can surely add in some of our fresh and healthy homemade mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts or these Italian roasted peppers. You could even throw in some salty black olives alongside vegan feta, sautéed mushrooms, roasted vegetables, and peppery arugula. To color outside the lines go for juicy summer yellow peaches and even avocado, but for the sake of decency: please no corn!
- On Storage – The best way to store this salad is straight into the belly. It doesn’t lend itself too well to refrigeration and definitely not to freezing. If you have any leftovers just keep them at room temperature until the cravings hit again, and they will.
- Did you burn the bread? – Not to panic. Keep calm and use a serrated bread knife to scrape off the burnt layer.
how to make bruschetta panzanella salad
Bruschetta Panzanella Salad
- 1/2 Italian crusty bread loaf
- 2 lb heirloom tomatoes
- 1/2 red onion or 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 2 clove large garlic
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (less or more as desired)
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar + more to taste
- 2 tbsp capers (roughly chopped)
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Slice the Italian bread into thick slices. Preheat a cast iron grill pan or griddle and char the bread quickly on both sides until nice grill marks form. Take good care not to burn it.1/2 Italian crusty bread loaf
- Rub each side of each slice of the bruschetta (grilled bread) with the garlic to your liking. Set aside and drizzle all over with some olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and allow it to cool. Once cooled off and easy to handle, tear the bruschetta into small pieces and place into a large bowl. (You can use a serrated knife to cut it up if you prefer).2 clove large garlic
- Slice the heirloom tomatoes and red onion and add them to the bowl with the bruschetta pieces.2 lb heirloom tomatoes, 1/2 red onion or 1 shallot
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar until combined. Season to taste with the sea salt and pour over the bruschetta panzanella salad.1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar + more to taste
- Sprinkle the salad with the capers and toss to coat well. Adjust seasonings again to your taste and add the basil leaves on top. Allow your panzanella salad to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving for all the flavors to marry.1/3 cup basil leaves, 2 tbsp capers, Sea salt to taste, Freshly cracked black pepper to taste