Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber Salad)

Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber Salad)

Fresh and flavorful Tuscan cuisine was born of frugality; likewise the cuisine of Peggy Lampman. Not a breadcrumb goes to waste if I can help it. Tuscan bread is typically a rustic-styled bread with a thick crust and chewy exterior. The bread is used like a sponge to sop up other heartier flavors. I have an similar-styled artisan bread sitting on my counter, about 2 or 3 days old. It’s too hard to simply slice and serve, but it’s absolutely perfect for one of my favorite Tuscan summer salads: Panzanella.

I’ve made many versions of this classic salad through the years. Whatever leftover artisan bread I have dictates the bread I use. Pumpernickel is a particular favorite because of its flavor and the contrast of the dark bread with the cucumbers. If I have any Zingerman’s day old paesano, Italian, sour dough or pumpernickel, I’ve hit panzanella pay-dirt! (Busch’s and Arbor Farms sell day-old Zingerman’s bread for a reduced price.) The bread can be used simply chopped, toasted in the oven or grilled. I prefer the texture of the bread toasted or grilled. Tonight is too hot for the oven so I will grill the bread outside.

Roasted peppers of any sort are always a flavorful addition to panzanella, as are olives. Adding capers, for me, is a given. But the main ingredients of a classic panzanella should not be altered: Tomatoes, cucumbers and crusty artisan bread. Meijers is selling tomatoes ($.88#) and cucumbers (3/$1.00), locally grown at Ruhlig Farms in Carleton, Michigan. Tonight’s dinnerFeed is decided! (This would be delicious served with Grilled Balsamic Chicken Breasts: July 23rd, dinnerFeed)

Recipe: Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber Salad)


  • 1 pound day old crusty bread (6-7 cups), crust trimmed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for grilling bread
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored, quartered and cut in half
  • 1 large cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup shedded fresh basil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoon capers


  1. Cut the crust off of the bread. Cut into 2-inch slices and grill until golden brown on each side, brushing olive olive oil on both sides of the bread. Once grilled, cut or tear bread into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and garlic and combine with the toasted bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and onion.
  3. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. If time allows, let salad sit at room temperature 30 minutes for the flavors to combine, tossing occasionally. Sprinkle capers over top and serve.

Time: 40 minutes (plus 30 minutes optional sitting time)

Number of servings (yield): 4-6

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

More Recipes Filed Under "Other salads"

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