Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) on a wooden board with salad tongs stuck into them
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Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella)

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Summer is officially here and I am here for it!! I am thinking of lazy BBQs in the afternoon sun, drinking loads of lemonade (such as my Summer Day Lemonade), and spending time picnicking, preferably with water nearby 😍. For all of those occasions, today’s Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) is absolutely perfect!

Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) on a wooden board with salad tongs stuck in shot from above

This gem has been on a long list of mine to develop a recipe for and I am so glad I finally got around to it. What is a Panzanella you might be asking? It is basically an Italian-style bread salad that has been around since the 16th hundred. It is made with stale bread (that is soaked in a bit of water and then dried), tomatoes, onions, and then depending on which recipe you follow it adds cucumber, herbs, olives, capers, peppers – you name it. Basically, it becomes a bit of a “freestyle” after the bread, onions, and tomatoes 🤣. The rather sweet or non-distinct flavors are then dressed up with olive oil and vinegar. In my version, we are also adding garlic and mustard for an additional kick.

Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) on a wooden board with tongs sticking out shot from a three-quarter angle

And yet again, I kept these pictures super simple because I truly wanted the colors to shine 🤩! Look at the red, yellow, and green – I could die in happiness about it! Originally, I wanted to shoot this one outside, because the weather is truly beautiful at the moment, but as luck would have it, I only had a small window to shoot and it was the middle of the day, which, in the summertime, is basically the worst kind of lighting you can have for food photography (possibly any photography if I am honest – the light is simply far too harsh/bright). So back to the basement it was. I am crossing my fingers for next week’s post 😉.

Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) on a wooden board with salad tongs stuck into them

Why is this Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) good for you?

I recently published a recipe for an Easy, Simple Summer Salad. In this I discuss the benefits of tomatoes and onions, so please head on over there if you would like to learn more!

Peppers

Sweet, delicious (bell) peppers. Peppers belong to the nightshade family and are an excellent and exceptionally high source of Vitamin C. In fact, they contain a lot more vitamin C than orange juice (something that the marketing industry likes to keep quiet 😉). Peppers are also exceptionally high in antioxidants, especially the flavonoid and carotenoid variety. As you hear me say on the blog time and time again, antioxidants are so, so important for our health. In fact, I have written an entire blog post about the Science behind Antioxidants if you want to learn more.

They basically help to reduce oxidative stress, which, in turn, reduces our potential for Western disease (e.g. cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s, and obesity). The high carotenoid content also makes peppers an excellent contender for your eye health, and may protect you from age-related macular degeneration (= basically a loss in vision or your sight becoming blurry). By the way – and I am mentioning this because I only learned this last year when starting to grow peppers myself… Ever wondered how the green, red, and orange variety come about? Peppers all start out green and then the ripening process first turns them red, and then orange. That is also the reason why the green variety oftentimes tastes a bit more “tart”. It simply did not spend as much time in the sun.

Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) on a wooden board photographed up close

Olives

Olives are technically a fruit and usually harvested in September. They tend to be available year-round though. Olives are usually too bitter to be eaten directly from a tree and therefore need to be curated first. Similar to peppers, olives start out green and then turn black when ripe. However, there are also some varieties that stay green and/or are black straight away. Olives are very high in fat, most of which is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Diets high in monounsaturated fats have been shown to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Mainly by lowering overall blood cholesterol levels, “bad” cholesterol levels, as well as our ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol levels. In relation to cardiovascular health, olives have been researched to lower blood levels of a C-reactive protein, which is a common indicator for inflammation.

Olives in a wooden spoon with basil leaves on a dark surface

Basil

Basil is related to peppermint and a herb that is, in particular, known from the Italian cuisine. It is not only delicious but also provides a ton of flavor! Basil (as all green vegetables and herbs) is exceptionally high in vitamin K1. Vitamin K1, amongst other things, is super important for our blood to clot properly. Basil has antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits. The flavonoids found in Basil appear to protect the cell structure of white blood cells and our chromosomes from oxidative damage or radiation. The volatile oils in Basil make up most of their anti-bacterial benefits and have been shown to inhibit the growth of different strands of bacteria in lab settings.

A fork with Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) in focus with more salad visible in the background

How can I adjust this Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) to my dietary requirements?

This Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella) is nut-free, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free (be sure to use gluten-free bread). You could easily make this salad paleo by using paleo-approved bread.

  • Halved cherry tomatoes, sliced onions, and olives in a wooden bowl
  • Cutting bread cubes on a wooden tray
  • Halved cherry tomatoes, sliced onions, olives, and chopped basil in a wooden bowl
  • Halved cherry tomatoes, sliced onions, olives, chopped basil, and added bread pieces in a wooden bowl
  • Charred yellow peppers in a silver tray
  • Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) ingredients in a wooden bowl before adding sauce
  • Sauce ingredients for Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) in a blender before blending
  • Sauce ingredients for Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) in a blender after blending

And there you have it for this week! A beautiful, delicious salad that lends itself well to whatever adventures you are off to this summer 🌸. If you need more salad inspiration, why not try my Watermelon Feta Salad and/or my Italian Anti-Pasti Salad. They are also both absolute winners in the salad-department area!! As always, please let me know how you are liking the recipe below by leaving a comment and/or rating the recipe! Happy Tuscan-Style Salad eating everyone 😉😋.

Tuscan-Style Tomato and Bread Salad (Panzanella)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Ann Robejsek Course: Main, sideCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

This Tuscan-Style Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) is the perfect light summer dinner or BBQ addition. Delicious, easy, and healthy. ENJOY!

Ingredients

  • For the salad
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper

  • 1 medium-sized red onion

  • 500 gr. tomatoes

  • 150 gr. (ca. 3 cups) gluten-free bread cubes — see notes* for details

  • Â― cup (ca. 90 gr.) olives

  • two large handful of basil, or a mix of other herbs

  • For the dressing
  • 1 garlic clove

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tsp mustard

  • salt and pepper to taste

How to

  • For the salad
  • Start with the bell pepper. If you have a gas stove or a BBQ grill, char the yellow pepper (carefully!!) over an open flame. Once done, cut into long, thin stripes. Alternatively, you could use the grill setting in your oven at a high temperature (e.g. 250 degrees Celsius – 480 degrees Fahrenheit) and grill the peppers. I would possibly pre-slice them already then. You could also already buy them roasted in a jar
  • Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the onion. You can let it run shortly under cold water if you should the onion be super pungent. Add to a large salad bowl. Wash and cut the tomatoes into small chunks and add to the bowl. Add the olives as well. Chop the basil (or herbs of choice) finely and also add to the bowl
  • Cut the bread into small chunks. Heat a non-stick pan over medium to high heat and roast (without any oil) until the bread has a bit of colour and crunch to it. Add to the bowl with the other ingredients
  • Finally, thinly slice the charred yellow pepper and add as well (you could also peel off the outer layer if you do not like it charred)
  • For the dressing
  • Now that the salad is prepped you can make the dressing. Simply add all of the ingredients to a small blender and blend on high until combined. This is not a massive amount of sauce, but it will fit just right and blend in nicely with the juices of the tomatoes
  • Combine and mix well! The salad is best when at least resting for an hour so that all of the beautiful juices and flavors can fully develop!! ENJOY!

Notes

  • * This is about 3 – 4 slices of bread, depending on how big they are. You can absolutely use a bit of stale bread, but do not have to. The roasting process adds a bit of crunch in either case.

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