Barefoot Contessa Panzanella


This salad was invented by Italians to use up leftover bread, but I make it because I love the warm croutons soaking up the vinaigrette.–Ina Garten

LC A Bread Salad For All Seasons Note

We’re all about this summer bread salad. But sometimes we need an equivalent for fall, winter, and spring. Enter your imagination. For a fall rendition, we fancy something along the lines of this mushroom, herb, and bread concoction. For winter, we’re thinking roasted winter squash and red onions and whatever other vegetables you wish. And for spring, we’re thinking asparagus and tender baby greens. But go on, surprise us with your interpretation.

Barefoot Contessa Panzanella Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 12


  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, chained
  • For the vinaigrette
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1. Make the vinaigrette
  • 2. Whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
  • 3. Make the bread salad
  • 4. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. Remove from the heat.
  • 5. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season the bread salad liberally with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or let the salad sit for half an hour to allow the flavors to blend before serving.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Bread salads are such a wonderful alternative to standard leaf-based salads. They’re hearty, nutritious, and very delicious. I didn’t eat this salad as a side to my main meal. I ate it as my main meal. It served as a great departure from the heavy, hot meals I often eat on a cold January night. The bright notes in this salad really awakened my palate and convinced me that it can be eaten anytime of the year. Here’s why:

Flavors: What is so pleasing about this salad is that it is filled with a medley of garden flavors that really play well off one another. The understated tomato and cool cucumbers and peppers are given a little zip and zing with help from red onions and capers. All of these vegetables also accept the tart flavors of the dressing (which was not oily or overpowering) easily. My favorite ingredient in the salad was, of course, basil. I liked how it bridged all the flavors in the salad together while still allowing the vegetables a chance to show off their true identity.

Color and Texture: Bright and colorful are just a few words to describe this salad. Its stunning presentation allows you to appreciate all of its shapes and colors: cubes of red and orange peppers, rings of purple onions, and pieces of green cucumber and basil. This lively display combined with the texture from toasted cubes of bread and crisp vegetables contrasts well against the soft tomatoes.

Timing: This salad is easy to make. Cutting and chopping the vegetables takes a little bit of time, but not too much.

The dressing is also a cinch to make. Just put the ingredients in a bowl, whisk them together, and you’re done.

Other Comments: I used some homemade French bread in this salad. First, I cut it up into hearty cubes, sautéed them in a large skillet coated with olive oil, and let them cook until they were evenly toasted. This took about 10 minutes as the recipe suggested. This plain-tasting but sturdy bread really stood up well in this salad: it helped mop and soak up the flavors from the vegetables and dressing without becoming too soggy.

Side note: Even though French bread is commonly used in bread salads, I think that olive bread would work equally well. After all, olives are indigenous to the Mediterranean region, and would, therefore, complement all of the ingredients used in this recipe. You could even add hot peppers, anchovies, and cubes of meat and cheese like ham and mozzarella for variety.


  1. I have been making this salad every summer when tomatoes are perfect for picking from my garden. Very yummy, I make the bread all year, why would anyone buy croutons after trying this perfect, easy recipe.

  2. I love this recipe! I altered it a bit, I added some Greek yogurt to the dressing and it’s great! When I watched this recipe on the show, I thought she added feta cheese, that’s why I added the yogurt. This recipe doesn’t call for feta but I love the extra creaminess added by the yogurt! I made my croutons with whole-wheat sourdough and I wasn’t sure at first that that type of bread would work, but it was great! I’m so happy and I love this salad!

  3. This is so wonderful. My hubby dislikes the bread in it (weirdo) so I often just use the veggies and dressing and serve it as a chopped salad. Delicious!

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