Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Andrea Wyner
  • Yield: 6 servings

Many American versions of panzanella use croutons, but the authentic version is made with a dry bread that is soaked in water to reconstitute it, then is mixed with tomato, cucumber, basil, and onion, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. In hard times, it was often made with just bread and onion, but today you may see such additions as tuna, green beans, bell peppers, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, and capers.


1pound day-old country-style bread, cut into several pieces
2large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2cup finely chopped red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4cup red wine vinegar
1/3cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs basil for garnish


  1. Crumble the bread in a large bowl and add water to cover. Let soak for 15 minutes. Squeeze the bread with your hands and discard the soaking water. Place the bread in a medium bowl with the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic and vinegar. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss the dressing with the bread mixture, then garnish with basil sprigs and serve at once.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking by Pamela Sheldon Johns (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011).