One of my favorite summer side dishes is Panzanella Salad. This summer time salad is full of fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, basil, and toasted bread which are tossed in a light French vinaigrette. This dish can accompany a piece of grill salmon or chicken or be the star of dinner.
In Italy, Panzanella salads in Italy are typically composed of just stale bread and tomaotes. Sometimes there's fresh basil added on top. While sometimes simple is better, I personally love this recipe from Ina Garten that I adapted to contain a few more vegetables and made with grain-free bread.
How to make this recipe
The first step in making this recipe is to make a loaf of my grain-free sandwich bread. The bread can be baked a day or two in advance if you prefer. You can also use your favorite store bought bread.
Next, cut the bread into 1 inch cubes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper then toast in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven and cool.
Next, make the vinaigrette by mixing the olive oil, champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir and set aside.
Next, chop up all the yummy veggies. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, dice the cucumber and bell pepper, and chop the red onion. Add everything to a bowl and toss. Next, add the capers, sweety drop peppers along with the chopped fresh basil. Lastly, add the toasted bread and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss to coat everything. Spread the salad onto a platter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, more fresh basil, and a handful of radish sprouts before serving.
Can I use store-bought bread?
YES! I am all about finding semi-homemade options to help making cooking and baking at home even easier. If you have a store-bought bread, gluten-free or regular, that you enjoy, please use that instead. I follow a grain-free diet so my grain-free sandwich bread recipe is the best option for me. If you do decide to buy bread rather than make it, the best part is this becomes a one bowl recipe!
How to store
It is preferred that Panzanella salads consumed right away since the bread will become soggy rather than stay crunchy after too long. If you do need to save any leftovers, save them in an airtight container for up to two days in the fridge.
What to serve with panzanella salad:
I love making this salad as the main highlight on my dinner plate. Add in some protein, and it's the ultimate summer meal. Here are some of my favorites to serve with panzanella salads:
- Grilled chicken
- Beef Skewers
- Baked salmon
- Grilled Mango Lime Chicken
- Whole roasted chicken
- Simple garlic shrimp
For the salad:
- 1 loaf grain-free sandwich bread or your favorite store-bought bread (6 cups, cubed)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 pts cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, unseeded, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
- ½ red onion, small diced
- 3 tbsp capers
- ½ cup sweety drop peppers
- 20 large fresh basil leaves, about ½ cup packed
- optional: radish sprouts for sprinkling on top
For the vinaigrette:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- pinch of salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cube the bread and toss in the ½ cup olive oil. Spread out on a large backing tray and toast in the oven until the bread is golden brown. Make sure to toss every few minutes to ensure even browning.
- While the bread is toasting, combine the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, capers, sweety drop peppers, and chopped basil in a large bowl and gently mix.
- Next, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and pour over the vegetables. Once the bread is toasted and cooled slightly, place in the large bowl with vegetables and gently toss to coat. Place the salad on a large serving platter and sprinkle with radish sprouts. Enjoy!