Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

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Serves: 6


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 loaf store-bought or homemade rustic country bread torn into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
Pinch sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 unpeeled hothouse cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup basil leaves, cut into ribbons, plus additional for garnish


Preheat oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; when oil is hot, add garlic cloves. Remove from heat and set aside until cool. Discard garlic cloves.

Toss bread in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil. Place on a baking sheet. Toast bread until lightly golden and crispy, about 7 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

To make vinaigrette: Combine remaining olive oil with vinegar, shallot, sugar, salt and pepper, and mix well.

In a large bowl, toss bread, tomatoes, onion and cucumber with vinaigrette and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional basil.


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