Panzanella (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad)

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If you’re looking for a new recipe to use up farm-fresh vegetables, this is the one for you.

This is a Tuscan dish that is about as good as they come. Purists will go with extra-stale bread, but we find making our homemade croutons helps the bread keep some texture and works amazingly well with the vegetables. If possible, get fresh-from-the-garden heirloom tomatoes.

A straight-on view of a large serving pasta bowl filled with panzanella that has been topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.

How To Make Panzanella (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad)

Making the croutons from scratch is so much easier than you might think, and really help to take this dish to the next level.

As mentioned, farm-fresh veggies are ideal for this salad, especially tomatoes.


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The Ingredients You Will Need

It’s about the bread, the veggies, and the simple vinaigrette for this epic salad.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Have on Hand

For the Salad:
Homemade Croutons – In Tuscany, the bread is usually just 2 or 3-day-old stale bread. We’ve tried both and love going with homemade croutons.
Tomatoes – Farm-fresh heirlooms are so good. Go with a variety of colors, if possible.
Cucumber – Peeled, seeded, and cubed.
Onion – Fine chopped red onion is recommended. You can soak them in apple cider for a milder taste.
Olives – Black, green, or Kalamata are all great choices. Make sure they are pitted. Slice them or leave them whole. We leave ours whole.
Capers – Drained.
Herbs – Fresh basil and parsley are fantastic.
Parmesan cheese – Grated from a block when serving is recommended.

For the Dressing:
Oil – Extra-virgin is recommended.
Vinegar – Red wine or balsamic are both excellent. We usually go with red wine vinegar.
Lemon juice – From 1 fresh lemon.
Seasoning – Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

EXPERT TIP: An easy way to emulsify the dressing is to place all of its ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Affix the lid and then shake vigorously. If making the vinaigrette in advance, you’ll want to shake again before adding to the salad.

A person pouring a red wine vinaigrette over a bowl filled with croutons, chopped tomatoes, black olives, cubed cucumbers, and sliced red onions.

Tips for Making the Best Panzanella

Use High-Quality Ingredients – Go with a nice Italian loaf for the croutons, farm-fresh heirloom tomatoes, and a mix of colorful vegetables,for the best flavor and texture.

Make the Croutons From Scratch – Tossing cubed bread with oil, melted butter, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and dried oregano and then baking until golden and crispy is what makes this salad so special.

Let the Salad Rest (But Not Too Long) – After you’ve tossed the croutons and vegetables with the vinaigrette, allow a little time for it to be absorbed, about 15 minutes before serving. If you wait hours, the salad will become too soggy.

EXPERT TIP: The addition of freshly grated Parmesan cheese after the dish has been plated is not only beautiful, but adds a depth of flavor that you won’t get from pre-shredded cheese. It’s also beautiful, too.

A person using a microplane to grate a block of Parmesan cheese over a bowl filled with panzanella (bread and tomato salad).

How To Serve

This salad makes a wonderful “starter” salad before a nice Italian feast. Serve it before you serve Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Chicken Piccata, or Salmon Puttanesca.

It is also spectacular served family-style. Simply serve in a large pasta bowl and let guests serve themselves.

As mentioned, serve within 15 minutes of tossing the salad with the vinaigrette. It will stay delicious for 1 to 2 hours. It’s still amazing after the bread absorbs most of the dressing!

A person using two large wooden spoons to toss together chopped vegetables and homemade croutons in a large pasta bowl.

Other Classic Salad Dishes to Try

We love all types of salads that can be served before the main course, or as a side dish. Here are some of our all-time favorites:

Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Scallion Dressing
Thai Beef Salad with Vegetables
Greek Salad with Grilled Steak
Tzatziki Cucumber Salad
Stuffed Summer Tomatoes
Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad with Tomato Relish
Horseradish Potato Salad

These are all amazing in their own right, but doesn’t this Tuscan masterpiece catching your eye?

An overhead view of a large pasta bowl filled with panzanella and flanked by a block of Parmesan cheese and a torn loaf of bread.

We can honestly say, this Tuscan salad is one of most favorite salads to make during the peak summer months.

The texture of the salad is unique, but so satisfying.

And the taste is truly unmatched. We get nothing but huge rave reviews every time we serve this to guests.

An overhead view a past bowl filled with a tomato and bread salad that has had some of it removed with a large wooden spoon that inserted into the side of the salad.

Ready to make the best Tomato and Bread Salad this side of, well, Tuscany? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a picture, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

An overhead view of a large pasta bowl filled with panzanella and flanked by a block of Parmesan cheese and a torn loaf of bread.

Panzanella (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad)

Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad) is the perfect salad for peak-season tomatoes. You could go with stale bread pieces, but we find that making our homemade croutons put this salad over the top.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy tomato and bread salad recipe, how to make panzanella
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Making the Croutons: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 253kcal


For the Salad

  • 5 cups croutons click the link for easy recipe
  • 3 heirloom tomatoes cored, seeded, and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cubed
  • ½ cup red onion chopped, or thinly sliced
  • ½ cup black olives pitted
  • ¼ cup capers drained
  • ¼ cup basil fresh, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley flat-leaf, fresh, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese freshly grated, for garnish

For the Dressing

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • cup red wine vinegar more to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice fresh, usually from 1 lemon
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground


Do Ahead

  • Make the croutons and set aside.
    5 cups croutons

Assemble the Salad

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the croutons, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives, capers, basil, and parsley. Mix together with two large wooden spoons.
    3 heirloom tomatoes, 1 cucumber, ½ cup red onion, ½ cup black olives, ¼ cup capers, ¼ cup basil, ¼ cup parsley
  • Add the dressing ingredients to a large jar with a tight-fitting lid. Affix the lid and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, until fully combined (alternately, whisk the ingredients in a bowl until fully combined).
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss continuously for a few minutes. Let rest for about 10 minutes, and then toss again.
  • Serve the salad at once, with grated Parmesan as a garnish.
    Parmesan cheese


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
The croutons can be made 24 hours in advance. Once cool, place in a baggie and seal shut. Leave on the counter for up to 4 or 5 days. 
This salad is best served about 15 to 20 minutes after tossing with the dressing. Though, it will continue to be wonderful for several hours. After a few hours, the bread will be quite soggy, but still yummy. Leftovers aren't so great as the bread turns to mush. 


Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 850mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 867IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!


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