Panzanella is my favorite type of salad because the star ingredient is BREAD! Yes, a bread salad! You may wonder if a recipe with zero lettuce can be called a salad, and I’m here to share the good news that it can. One of my lifelong favorite foods is bruschetta, and Panzanella shares a lot of those same flavors and textures: ripe tomatoes, good olive oil, lots of garlic, balsamic vinegar, and toasty bread. You’ll notice that there’s fresh melon in here, too, and while fruit may seem like an odd addition, it adds some much needed sweetness and heft to the salad, as well as gorgeous color. Besides the bread, my favorite part of this recipe is how the tomatoes are salted so that they release some of their juices, and then that fresh tomato juice is used as the base for the vinaigrette for the entire dish. It’s a perfect example of maximizing your ingredients, and there’s no better way to enjoy summer’s best tomatoes! This dish is also the most ideal way to use up day-old bread that’s otherwise headed for the trash, and is perfect for a summer picnic or a sunny potluck with friends!
1. Panzanella Etymology
The name is believed to be a portmanteau of “pane”, Italian for “bread,” and “zanella”, a deep plate in which it is traditionally served.
2. Salty Tomatoes?
The technique of salting the tomatoes before they’re mixed into the salad serves two purposes: it seasons the tomatoes correctly, since they have time to absorb the salt, and it makes them release some of their juices, which are then added to the vinaigrette, for even more tomato flavor in the dish.
3. Tips for Make Ahead
This dish is excellent for entertaining because it’s both very beautiful AND very delicious! If you’d like to make it a day or some hours ahead of when it’s being served, assemble all of the components except for the toasted bread and the vinaigrette. Then, right before serving, mix the bread into the other ingredients, pour over the vinaigrette, and gently toss everything together.