This Simple Tomato Panzanella Salad is made with homemade olive oil-soaked croutons, juicy tomatoes, red onion, and fresh cucumbers and basil. It is bright, refreshing and full of the freshest summer ingredients!
I vividly remember my first panzanella salad ever, which ashamedly, was only two years ago. It was the opening of Fareground, Austin’s first food hall, and I couldn’t keep staring at everyone’s burrata perched on top of beautiful tomatoes and toasted bread. I asked someone what the dish was and where to get it. I took a beeline straight to Antonelli’s Cheese to order this gorgeous dish.
One small detail, I had JUST gotten off Whole30, and this was my first non-Whole30 meal. I was excited, to say the least (or maybe, desperate).
I ate Antonelli’s panzanella salad with complete awe and amazement that something could be so beautifully juicy, fresh and flavorful. It was delightful. Until about 30 minutes later, I realized how much of a shock I put on my system, and was in pain the rest of night.
NEVERTHELESS, panzanella is still one of my favorite summer dishes. It is so refreshing, light, yet also comforting. I made this salad vegan-friendly, but I know burrata or mozzarella would only add to this dish!
What you’ll need:
Use the best tomatoes you can find, ideally from your own garden or the farmers market. I love to use a combination of heirloom and cherry and baby tomatoes.
It’s best to use a hearty, dense bread like ciabatta or sourdough. I wouldn’t recommend a soft bread, as it will absorb the dressing to quickly. I used sourdough here. Unfortunately, the only loaves left were pre-sliced, so they were a bit thinner than I would prefer. If you can, cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.
Red onions add a perfect pop to salads. To temper the intensity, allow the sliced red onions to sit in red wine vinegar for at least 10 minutes. It creates a slightly pickled and sweet onion… delicious!
Persian or seedless cucumbers will be your best option to provide for that crisp and refreshing bite. However, I have used regular cucumbers and it still works just fine! If you want less liquid, scoop out the seeds.
Basil always makes everything better. This is a must.
Olive oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic, and S+P
These five classic ingredients make up the simple dressing and allow the flavors to meld together perfectly.
Please note that this recipe is adapted from Serious Eats. I added a few veggies, and omitted a few ingredients, but they helped frame up this delicious recipe!
How to change up this recipe with other amazing summer ingredients:
- Add fresh corn off the cob
- Brighten with blackberries or grilled peaches
- Make it heartier with lentils
- Make it creamy with mozzarella or burrata
Looking for something else?
Simple Tomato Panzanella Salad
- 2.5 lbs tomatoes ideally a mix of heirloom and baby*
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 small loaf sourdough (about 400g, or 6 cups of cubes)
- 8 tbsp olive oil, divided extra virgin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar, divided
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup chopped basil loosely packed
- salt and pepper
- Place a colander inside a bowl. Chop tomatoes and place in colander. Salt tomatoes with 2 tsp Kosher salt and toss. Allow to drain for ~30 minutes, allowing juices to drain into the bowl below.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut sourdough bread into 1in cubes. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil. Lay on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. (until toasted and firm, but not too browned). Remove and allow to cool.
- Slice red onion thinly. Place in a bowl with 1 tbsp red wine vinegar. Mix onions to coat in vinegar. Allow to sit for minimum of 10 minutes.**
- Slice cucumber thinly into bite size pieces.
- In the bowl under the colander (the one collecting tomato juice), combine the dressing. Add 6 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, and minced garlic. Generously salt and pepper, to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, chopped basil and dressing.
- 10-15 minutes before serving, toss in sourdough cubes. Toss well to coat with dressing. Allow flavors to sit for those 10-15 minutes, and serve!
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