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Bright and Colorful Italian Panzanella Salad Recipe

Bright and colorful panzanella

Bright and colorful panzanella

A Great Way to Use Up Tomatoes

This year I found my garden tomatoes ripening all at once. Panzanella became my go-to lunch on many a day. It's quick and easy to make, and it requires only a few easily acquired ingredients. For something so simple the results are wonderful. I have even eaten this as a side dish with my breakfast eggs. It's a great way to start the day!

The addition of basil adds color and an inviting aroma to draw the senses in.

If you want to make the salad brighter and even more colorful, use half red tomatoes and half yellow tomatoes.

This a great dish to serve at your own summer barbecue or to bring along to a picnic or to someone's else's potluck. Just be sure to keep the tomato mixture and the seasoned bread cubes separate until you are ready to serve. The bread cubes should have a little crunch to them and not be allowed to get mushy.

Prep Time

Prep timeReady inYields

1 hour

1 hour

4 servings (as a side dish)


  • 4 tomatoes, cut in eighths
  • 8 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 slices Italian bread
  • 6 tablespooons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)


  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarter wedges and then slice each wedge in half again horizontally. Place the slices in an colander over a bowl to catch the drippings. Toss the tomatoes with 1/2 cup salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the tomatoes. Let these sit for at least 45 minutes (longer is better).
  2. Place the bread slices on an aluminum baking sheet. Brush the bread slices with 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt, Parmesan cheese, and chopped parsley on top. Set the oven to broil and toast until light brown, about 3 minutes (be sure to watch the bread carefully). Flip them over and toast the other side. Remove from oven and cool.
  3. When the bread has cooled, cut each slice into cubes about 3/4 inch in size and put in a large salad bowl.
  4. Save the tomato liquid that has collected in the bowl underneath the draining tomatoes. Rinse the tomato slices in the colander to get the excess salt off the tomatoes. Drain.
  5. Whisk the remaining extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar into the tomato liquid.
  6. Just before serving, add the tomatoes to the bread cubes and sprinkle the chopped basil on top. (The tomatoes should not be added too soon so the bread cubes don't lose their crunch.) Toss in the dressing and serve.

© 2020 Ellen Gregory