To clarify right from the get-go, panzanella is actually a bread salad, not a tomato salad. This summertime favourite was created to use up stale bread in the age old tradition of waste not, want not. Panzanella is not meant to be a low carb salad, the entire purpose is to toast up those bread cubes and use them.
You can, of course, use as little or as much bread as you like in this recipe. I had a loaf that I needed to use up so I toasted a LOT of bread cubes for the salad, but it did end up being around 50% bread and 50% vegetables. That for us was the perfect balance as it was lunch for us one day – with nothing else accompanying it.
There are so many ways to make panzanella and I'm not claiming mine is authentic in any way, shape or form. I prefer tomatoes with cucumbers and a ton of basil – and surprise, surprise, my vinaigrette included white wine. I didn't include onions and some panzanella salad recipes even use anchovies, something else I had no interest in adding!
I also turned my bread cubes into what are basically garlic butter croutons – and they were so utterly fantastic that I was glad I made the entire loaf! I had some leftover that we used on soup the following day. much to my delight. There's nothing like a two for one recipe.
This salad is, of course, the best with fresh from the garden tomatoes. I prefer the cherry tomatoes for mine as they are usually what I grow, but you can dice up whatever you have handy.
The vinaigrette itself is very easy to play around with and I suggest that you make it to taste. Add more or less garlic if preferred, less salt, more Dijon, whatever works for your tastebuds.
Another note : this is NOT a low calorie salad, but I suggest that you ignore calories and think of all that fabulous olive oil and fresh veggies you are getting into your system!
Happy cooking babes!
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small French bread/baguette cut into 1 inch cubes ( around 8 cups)
- 1-2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 English cucumber sliced into cubes
- 4 cups of tomatoes sliced
- 1/4 cup of ribbon sliced basil or more to taste, I love basil!
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp finely minced garlic
Pre-heat your oven to 350 °F.
Whisk together the butter, olive oil and garlic powder. ( Using minced garlic doesn't work, as it cooks too long in the oven and burns!)
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl, then pour the butter mixture over top. Toss until they are coated.
Scatter out evenly on a large baking sheet in one layer then bake in the oven until golden brown and crispy. Remove and cool.
Combine the vegetables and bread cubes in a large bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together, then pour over top.
Toss the salad to mix. Let sit for 30 minutes or until the bread cubes start to soften up - but aren't soggy.
Serve and enjoy!