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Panzanella – Tuscan Bread Salad

This delicious recipe for Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad comes from my Aunt Peggi and it is a glorious summery meal. With ripe tomatoes, salty cheese and fresh basil, it's perfect for a summer BBQ.

There is so much to love about summer in Munich. Long sunny days, relaxed evenings with friends and loved ones under the spreading chestnut trees, lots of barbecues and long walks along the Isar, it is the time of year when this very outdoor city really shines. This is weather for eating outdoors, and the time of year I like to make one of my favourite summer recipes. Panzanella, or Tuscan Bread Salad.

What is a bread salad?

Panzanella salad is made from garlicky toasted bread, tomatoes, salami, plenty of fresh basil, salty parmesan and of course, lashings of olive oil. This is a salad that packs a huge flavour punch – best of all, it makes use of that stale bread that so often just gets wasted by being thrown out.

Is this a traditional Italian recipe?

I think there are as many recipes for panzanella as there are Italian cooks! This particular recipe for Panzanella was given to me by my Aunt Peggi who is a truly wonderful cook. Let me tell you, whether it is traditional or not, this salad is almost always the most popular dish on the table at any given barbecue or picnic.

Perfect for taking outdoors!

It’s a little known fact outside of Germany that you are actually allowed to bring your own food along to most of Munich’s wonderful beer gardens, and I love nothing more than unpacking a huge picnic spread, washed down with plenty of fresh local beer and wine. Panzanella salad transports really well, so it’s a fantastic recipe to take along into the great outdoors.

Use good quality ingredients

As always with simple dishes, it is so important to get the best quality ingredients you can lay your hands on. Try to find the most deliciously ripe and juicy tomatoes that you can for this dish, as they really are the star of the show. Be generous with the garlic and olive oil and this salad will reward you with plenty of mouthwatering flavours.

Looking for more summery Italian recipes?

If the sun is shining where you are and you fancy some more delicious Italian inspired recipes, why not try my Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats, or my Italian Eggplant Involtini? How about a Caprese Pasta Salad? For dessert, you can’t go past a lemon and white chocolate Torta Caprese al Limone!

Tuscan Summer Bread Salad

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I really have to use stale bread to make panzanella?

No, it’s just a useful way of using up stale bread, as the bread is toasted in this recipe you can use fresh bread. Go for something sturdy, such as ciabatta so it can hold up to all the dressing and tomato juice.

Do I need a special olive oil to make panzanella?

As this recipe uses plenty, make sure you use an olive oil that you like the flavour of. I prefer milder, mellower olive oils rather than a very herby, grassy extra virgin oil as I find it overpowers the flavour of the tomatoes, but use what you like and enjoy.

Can I make panzanella salad in advance?

Yes, but no more than 24 hours. It will obviously start to get soggier over time.

I am vegetarian! Can I make this salad meat-free?

Absolutely! Simply leave out the salami.


Tuscan Summer Bread Salad or Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad
Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad

For the best tasting Panzanella salad use the freshest ingredients you can find. Juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil and a good quality olive oil will make this dish truly sing.

Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad Salad

Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This delicious recipe for Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad comes from my Aunt Peggi and it is a glorious summery meal. With ripe tomatoes, salty cheese and fresh basil, it's perfect for a summer BBQ.

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb.) ripe, juicy tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 300g (11 oz.) day old baguette, ciabatta or similar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 100g (4 oz.) spicy Italian salami (or chorizo)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil

for the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100 ml (4 oz.) olive oil
  • sea salt & black pepper

to serve:

  • plenty of shaved Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. PREPARE: Heat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas 7, and line an oven tray with baking paper.
  2. CHOP THE TOMATOES: Cut the tomatoes into bite sized pieces, put into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices, stir through the sea salt and allow to drain for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. ROAST THE BREAD: Tear, or cut the baguette/ciabatta into bite sized cubes and place onto the prepared tray. Stir the crushed garlic into the olive oil, then drizzle the oil mixture all over the bread, tossing well with your hands to ensure the bread is coated. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and aromatic.
  4. PREPARE OTHER INGREDIENTS: Cut the salami into thick slices, then fry together with the rosemary leaves in a little oil for 2-3 minutes until golden and starting to crisp. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Peel, halve and slice the onion finely and tear the basil leaves in half, then set aside while you make the dressing.
  5. MAKE THE DRESSING: To make the dressing, whisk together the juice from the tomatoes, vinegar, mustard, and sugar. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking, then season to taste, going gentle on the salt as the salami has plenty.
  6. TOSS AND SERVE: To serve, toss the toasted bread with the tomatoes, salami, and onion, pour over the dressing and mix well to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes before tossing again, scatter over the basil and parmesan just before serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 plate
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 757Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 36gCholesterol: 49mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 23g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.

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Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food, architectural and landscape photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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