Don't let the season end without trying this summer panzanella. This twist on a the classic italian bread salad is filled with fresh and delicious summer flavors. Sourdough bread is mixed with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and sliced red onion, then dressed with a simple vinaigrette.
This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for content.
This bread and tomato salad with mozzarella cheese was inspired by one of my husband's family favorites. His grandmother makes an irresistible tomato salad that the entire family loves. Everyone fights over the juices at the bottom because they are the best to dip a piece of crusty bread into.
This variation combines all of those delicious flavors while paying tribute to the traditional panzanella recipe. Serve this summer panzanella salad with grilled steaks, braciole or even a nice plate of spinach fettuccine!
Authentic panzanella is a salad that originated in Italy and is comprised of dried or stale bread cubes that are mixed with tomatoes, onions and sometimes other vegetables. They are usually tossed with oil and vinegar and then the bread soaks up all of those delicious flavors.
🥖 Ingredients notes
- Bread - I love using crusty sourdough bread for both flavor and texture in this summer panzanella. I highly recommend using either a crusty artisan or italian bread. Either way, make sure it's a bit stale or dry so that it easily soaks up the dressing.
- Tomatoes - Any store bought or garden tomatoes can be used for this recipe. Grape or cherry tomatoes should be cut in half so that juices can run out and mix with the vinaigrette. For larger tomatoes, simply cut them into pieces that are the size of the bread and cheese.
- Mozzarella - Mozzarella pearls or ciliegine balls are smaller sized pieces of mozzarella that work great for this recipe. A larger log or ball of fresh mozzarella can also be used and cut into smaller pieces that are the same size as the tomatoes and bread.
📋 Substitutions and variations
- Dairy Free/Vegan - To make this recipe dairy free or vegan, simply omit the cheese and ensure that the bread you use does not contain dairy and/or animal products such as eggs.
- Extra Vegetables - Pepperoncini peppers, roasted red peppers, fresh bell peppers, or cucumbers could be added to this recipe if desired.
- Fresh Herbs - Fresh oregano or basil could be added for extra flavor.
🔪 Step by step instructions
First, cut your bread into cubes that are approximately one inch and halve or cut your tomatoes into similar sizes. Cube the mozzarella cheese as well, if you are not using balls.
Combe the bread, cheese, tomatoes and onion in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine.
Next, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a mason jar and shake to combine.
Pour the dressing over the bread mixture and toss to combine.
Serve the salad immediately or let it set in the fridge for an hour or two to give the flavors time to meld together.
⭐ Expert tips
- If your bread is fresh and not stale you can dry it out by cutting it into cubes and allowing it to set out for a few hours or overnight. You can also place the cubes on a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350˚ for 5-10 minutes to help dry them out.
- Check your local bakery or grocery store for stale or day old bread; sometimes they sell it at a discount.
- To really let the flavors meld together in this salad, let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two before serving.
💭 Frequently asked questions
Panzanella is best made an hour or two before serving. Past a few hours, the vinaigrette and juices from the onions and tomatoes will start to break down the bread and get progressively mushy.
You can make panzanella with croutons, however I recommend using ones with the least amount of seasoning or no seasoning at all. Most of the time store bought croutons already contain quite a bit of seasoning along with butter or oil. This will not only effect the flavor of the salad but also how well the vinaigrette is absorbed into the bread. It's best to find or make croutons that are just pieces of dried bread and not pre-seasoned.
🍅 More italian recipes
If you loved this recipe for panzanella bread salad, check out these other Italian inspired recipes that I know you will love too!
For a quick overview of this recipe, check out my web story for this Italian Panzanella Bread Salad.
Don't forget! If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and give it a rating. I love to hear from each and every one of you! Tag me on Facebook and Instagram as well! It makes my day to see all of your photos of the food you have made.Print