5 from 1 votes

Panzanella Salad (Crouton Salad)

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If you love oven-crisp Italian bread, fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella balls, all drizzled in a delicious vinaigrette, then Panzanella Salad (also known as crouton salad) is for you!

white plate with panzanella crouton salad.

If you’ve ever tended a garden, you know the feeling of peeking through the moist vines, searching for the ripest, most colorful fruits while smelling fresh basil mingling with the humid, tangy zest of heirloom tomatoes.

That, to me, is the smell of summer, and eating this Panzanella Salad evokes all those feelings of earth, sun, and fresh-picked foods.

Why you will love making Italian Crouton Salad.

Panzanella salad is incredibly versatile.

This recipe keeps it pretty simple, but once it’s a part of your repertoire, you’ll find all sorts of ways to keep it fresh, like adding cucumber, grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, olives, and even ripe, juicy peaches.

Panzanella is filling enough for lunch or a light dinner recipe but also makes a great appetizer salad recipe. Because it uses seasonal ingredients, you’ll want to make it as often as possible, whenever ripe tomatoes are in season!

Panzanella Salad Ingredients

  • day old Italian crusty bread, cut into slices and cubes
  • Extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar
  • diced juicy tomatoes and sliced red onion
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Capers drained
  • small fresh mozzarella pearls, quartered

How to make Panzanella Crouton Salad (TikTok Famous)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Mix olive oil and minced garlic in a small bowl.
  3. Pour over dry bread cubes. Using a spatula, mix well to coat evenly.
  4. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 8–10 minutes, until the cubed bread is crispy and crunchy. Set aside to cool.
6 image collage of step by step making panzanella salad croutons.
  1. Whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Add bite-sized pieces of tomatoes, onions, basil, capers, and cheese to a bowl and mix well.
  3. Stir in crunchy bread.
  4. Drizzle the oil and balsamic mixture and mix well to coat evenly. Let stand for 15 minutes for flavors to mingle. Season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired. Stir well before serving in a large salad bowl.
adding homemade croutons and balsamic dressing to salad for panzanella.

Expert Panzanella Bread Salad Tips:

  • For extra flavorful tomatoes (and to avoid that extra wateriness I mentioned previously), after chopping, salt the tomatoes and let them sit for about 15 minutes, then drain any excess moisture. You can discard the tomato juice or add some of it back into the dressing for extra flavor.
  • Use only fresh, ripe tomatoes. These are the most important ingredients in the salad, so make sure you use the best!
  • Add a bit of Dijon mustard to your vinaigrette. This gives the dressing a little kick and is delicious with the tomatoes and veggies.

  • A heartier style of bread will hold up better in this Crouton Panzanella Salad than other types of bread.
  • If you only have fresh bread instead of day-old bread, toast it in the oven for a few more minutes (around 12-15 minutes rather than 8-10). Check the bread often to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Add a bit of fresh chopped oregano and pepper to your dressing before tossing. Divine!
  • You can add all sorts of other ingredients to this Panzanella Salad Recipe. A few of my favorites are cucumber, olives, sliced air fryer peaches, and corn. You can also add Italian salami or grilled chicken.

FAQs:

Panzanella is a bread salad with tomatoes, basil, and onions tossed with an olive oil and vinegar dressing. It originated in the Tuscany region of Italy as one way people could use day-old or stale bread.

Picking Bread for Croutons

You have several options for picking the right bread for your Panzanella. This recipe calls for Italian Bread, but French Bread, ciabatta, baguettes, and even sourdough bread will all taste amazing in this.

You want to choose a bread that has a crispy, crunchy exterior; the heartier, the better to withstand getting soggy in the dressing.

Best tomatoes for Salads

At the height of summer, when fresh seasonal tomatoes are literally bursting off the vine, there is no better use for all that bounty than Panzanella.

Any fresh, ripe tomato will work for this salad. I LOVE using cherry tomatoes whenever I can, and Panzanella Salad is no exception! It can be challenging to strike the right balance of flavor and wateriness when making Panzanella.

On the one hand, tomato juices are a large part of the flavor of this salad. This means cutting all your tomatoes (even cherry tomatoes), or you’ll miss out on all that juicy goodness. On the other hand, overly watery tomatoes can interfere with your bread, causing it to become soggy.

For this reason, I like using cherry or Roma tomatoes because they are usually less watery than other varieties.

plate of bread salad and tomatoes.

What to Serve with an Italian Side Salad.

While Panzanella Salad is hearty enough to be served alone for lunch or a light dinner, it pairs perfectly with so many things!

For a vegetarian meal, try serving Panzanella Salad with Braised Artichokes or Eggplant Parmesan.

Or use it as an appetizer before Mediterranean-inspired meat, fish, and shrimp recipes, as well as chicken dishes like Asparagus Stuffed Chicken or Caprese Stuffed Chicken.

You could also serve this salad alongside pasta or even homemade pizza. Whatever you do, make sure you’re drinking some crisp white wine while enjoying your Panzanella. It really takes it over the top!

If you are interested in other awesome summer salad recipes, check out these great ideas:

  • Another fruity, fresh summertime salad is this fresh papaya and strawberry salad that makes a great side dish idea. 
  • Lastly, if you are gathering easy recipes for the holiday menu, try a creamy grape salad with yogurt or this colorful and flavorful fiesta corn salad recipe.
5 from 1 votes

Crouton Salad (Italian Panzanella Bread Salad)


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Panzanella Salad, a perfect blend of seasonal vegetables, mozzarella cheese and warm crispy croutons, is a fantastic mix of bread and vegetables. This perfect salad hails from Italy and is one of the best side salads or full dinner meals (just add chicken) that strays from typical salads and creates something wonderful.

Ingredients
 

Croutons

  • 1 loaf Italian Bread day old
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Salad

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 basil leaves to liking
  • 3/4 cup red onions sliced
  • 5 oz. capers drained
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella pearls quartered

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Mix together olive oil and minced garlic. Pour over bread cubes.
  • Spread croutons onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, until bread is crispy and crunchy. Set aside to cool.
  • Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Set dressing aside.
  • In a bowl, add tomatoes, onions, basil, capers and cheese in a bowl and mix well.
  • Stir in croutons.
  • Drizzle oil and balsamic mixture and mix well to evenly coat.
  • Let stand for 15 minutes for flavors to mingle.
  • Stir well before serving. 

Notes

What type of bread should I use to make Panzanella?
You have several options when it comes to picking the right bread for your Panzanella.  This recipe calls for Italian Bread, but French Bread, ciabatta, baguettes, and even sourdough breads will all taste amazing in this.  You want to choose a bread that has a crispy, crunchy exterior, the heartier the better to withstand getting soggy in the dressing.
Expert tips for this salad
  • For extra flavorful tomatoes (and to avoid that extra wateriness I mentioned previously), after chopping, salt the tomatoes and let them sit for about 15 minutes, then drain any excess moisture.  You can either discard the tomato juice or add some of it back into the dressing for extra tomato flavor.
  • Use only fresh, ripe tomatoes.  These are the most important ingredients in the salad, so make sure you are using the best!
  • Add a bit of Dijon mustard to your vinaigrette.  This gives the dressing a little extra kick and is delicious with the tomatoes and veggies.
  • A heartier style bread will hold up better in this Panzanella Salad than other types of bread.
  • If you only have fresh bread instead of day-old bread, toast it in the oven for a few minutes more (around 12-15 minutes rather than 8-10).  Check bread often to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Add a bit of fresh chopped oregano and pepper to your dressing before tossing.  Divine!
  • You can add all sorts of other ingredients to this Panzanella Salad.  A few of my favorites are cucumber, olives, sliced peaches, and corn.  You can also add Italian salami or grilled chicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 971kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 72g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 33g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1413mg | Potassium: 648mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 1079IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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5 from 1 votes

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