Panzanella feels like an ode to summer.

The classic Tuscan salad was originally created to use stale bread, because why would you want to throw away leftover bread when you can make something delicious? It includes some sort of vinaigrette, which is soaked in the stale bread (or in this recipe, baked croutons), as well as tomatoes, which lend their juice to the mixture, and often onions, cucumbers, and basil.

Here I use cherry tomatoes and cut them in half, but if you have large ripe tomatoes to make cubes, definitely do that instead. Mixing different colored tomatoes makes this dish even more visually appealing.

if you have garlic oil in hand, use that, or plain olive oil works well.

And if you are making croutons instead of using stale bread, you can use any type of bread for them. Classic panzanella features any type of firm white bread, from Italian bread to ciabatta to a Pullman bun. However, there are no rules: if you want, you can use sourdough, whole rye bread, whole grains, etc.

Keep in mind that the bread will continue to firm up as it cools, so bake the croutons until lightly browned but still a bit tender in the center.

You can leave the crusts on the bread or remove them. I love the crust and the difference in texture between the softer inside of the bread and the crispier outside. Also, the main purpose of panzanella was originally to use the stale bread, so it seems a shame to throw away any part of the bread.

Panzanella is best the day it’s made, but after it sits for at least 20 minutes.



1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta or country or other rustic white bread

1/3 cup olive oil

kosher salt to taste


½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

¼ cup chopped shallots

1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 cup red onion halved and very thinly sliced

3 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large

5 baby or Persian cucumbers, halved and sliced ​​½-inch thick

¼ cup chopped or thinly sliced ​​fresh basil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the ciabatta into large, rough pieces, about 1 1/2 inches long. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1/3 cup olive oil. Toss to combine, then spread out on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes, until the bread is beginning to brown around the edges, but the croutons are still tender on the inside. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on the baking sheet.

Prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl or container, combine the ½ cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, shallots, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Place the red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil in a bowl. Shake or stir the vinaigrette to recombine, then pour it over the salad and toss gently. Add the croutons and mix again until everything is well combined. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the croutons to soak up the seasoning a bit and soften, then serve.


Some dishes that go well with Tomato Panzanella include Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Chops, BBQ chicken, Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lime, Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Marinade and Grilled Marinated NY Tenderloin Steak.


Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family cooking, “Dinner Settled!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs on You can reach her at


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