Panzanella, or Tuscan bread salad, is an Italian staple that tosses day-old bread with tomatoes and olive oil. It tastes spectacularly complex for something so simple. And just wait’ll you try this version with grilled bread.
The panzanella recipe below makes a truly lovely and rustic Tuscan bread salad. Although in the spirit of full disclosure, we confess, it takes a few liberties with tradition. Authentic panzanella relies on day-old bread that’s hard so that it readily soaks up the tomato juices. This panzanella recipe first grills the slices of bread to add a little complexity to things. (Bonus! It also means you don’t have to wait for your loaf to turn hard if you’re the impatient sort.) The recipe strays even further from tradition by tossing in some fresh mozzarella because, well, when is fresh mozzarella ever a bad thing? We don’t think you’ll mind the untraditional tweaks. We certainly don’t. Originally published August 3, 2015. –Renee Schettler Rossi
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- About 2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 8 cups)
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 8 to 10 basil leaves, cut into thin strips (or chiffonade if you want to sound fancy)
- 1 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces crusty, rustic-style bread, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
- 4 to 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small chunks
- Red wine vinegar (optional)
- 1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil, olive oil, and salt, and season with a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Let sit at room temperature until the juices from the tomatoes release and create a kind of dressing, about 30 minutes. (We know. You’re in a rush. But trust us when we tell you waiting a half hour makes quite a difference in terms of allowing the flavors to meld.)
- 2. Meanwhile, preheat your grill to medium.
- 3. Lightly brush both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Grill the bread, turning once, until slightly toasted and golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the bread from the heat and rub the toasted bread all over with the cut side of the garlic.
- 4. Cut the grilled bread into 1/2-inch chunks. You can set the grilled bread aside at room temperature for a while if you’re not eating right away.
- 5. When ready to serve, toss the tomato mixture with the mozzarella and grilled bread and divide the panzanella among 4 plates. Taste and adjust the amounts of oil, salt, or pepper accordingly and, if desired, dribble with vinegar and toss again. Serve at once so the bread doesn’t turn soggy.