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Another Delicious Way to Use Ripe Tomatoes – Panzanella

Another Delicious Way to Use Ripe Tomatoes – Panzanella

I don’t know how I lived my entire life without eating a panzanella – a Tuscan salad that features day-old bread tossed with tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. But I made one recently, and heard angels sing.

Panzanella is a great way to use bread that’s just past fresh, but not ready to be tossed. At first, the bread’s role is to give the salad a little salty crunch. But then, as the panzanella sits, the bread soaks up the vinaigrette and becomes a delectable bite of olive oil, vinegar and spices.

Of course, panzanella is another wonderful way to use your garden-fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

I like my panzanella dressed with a traditional French vinaigrette. But, when I’m short of time, I’ll use my favorite bottled, olive-oil based dressing, and I’m sure it will taste lovely. And if I throw in some feta, giving it a Greek flair, I’m sure nobody will arrest me.

Here’s how to make a panzanella.


Hard bread – French, Italian, artisan – cut into 1-inch cubes. You’ll need about 6 cups, but you can use more or less.
3 tablespoons olive oil for browning the bread
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
Ripe tomatoes – at least 2 large cut into chunks, or two cups of cherry tomatoes halved
½ red onion chopped
1 large cucumber peeled, halved, seeded and sliced ½-1 inch thick
1 green, red, or yellow bell pepper seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
15 large basil leaves slivered with a sharp knife
¼ cup capers


1. Heat the olive oil until it shimmers, then toss in the bread cubes and salt. Stir or toss frequently until the bread is toasted brown.
2. In your favorite salad bowl, toss together the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, pepper, capers and basil leaves.
3. Add the bread.
4. Toss with a vinaigrette.
5. Serve as a side salad or main course.

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Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon, creator of, is an award-winning journalist, avid gardener and fly-fisher. She lives in Northern Virginia on a half acre that always needs weeding. Please visit her on Twitter (@kaplan_lisa) and Facebook (Lisa Kaplan Gordon)


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12:46PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014


6:44AM PDT on Aug 21, 2014

Many thanks!

5:43AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

And that's decided dinner. Thank you! 😊

11:13PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014


7:01PM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Sounds good and looks good, but unless someone made it for me I can't try it. I'm too lazy to make this just for myself. I live alone and I could never finish it before it got old. Thanks.

5:46AM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Sounds delicious, will definitely try! Thanks for the recipe.

3:59PM PDT on Aug 13, 2014

Sounds yummy, you could also add some olives too:)

8:56AM PDT on Aug 13, 2014

This is a delicious salad and we eat it frequently. There are as many variations of this salad as there are Italian Nonnas out there. As with so many things in life more is not always better. For Panzanella use good ingredients including your chunks of stale bread (sourdough is wonderful). For the Italians who taught us to make this the joy of eating Panzanella is in keeping it simple and sumptuous!

If you want croutons, then rather than fry the bread, which adds so many more calories, why not rub the bread with garlic (before you cube it), season, and then bake the croutons in the oven until golden brown.

8:44AM PDT on Aug 13, 2014

Looks good and seems like a nice recipe. Thank you.

8:14AM PDT on Aug 13, 2014

Sounds delicious!

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