Panzanella Salad

I bring this salad to nearly every Spring and Summer party I attend, and it’s always a hit. The best part is that it gets better the longer it sits, and it’s delicious at room temp, which makes it the ideal potluck dish.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 pint yellow or red cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, beefsteak or heirloom varieties work best, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 loaf of very crusty bread (anything except sandwich bread)*, cut into 1-inch cubes, or 1 1/2 bags of croutons
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn or thinly sliced

Vinaigrette

  • 1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Steps

Step 1

Toss all of the salad ingredients, except for the basil, together in a large bowl.

Step 2

Whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients and pour over the salad; toss to combine and make sure the bread or croutons are incorporated.

Step 3

Cover the salad with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. If leaving overnight, refrigerate the salad and take it out in the morning so it can come back to room temperature. It is better to avoid refrigerating if possible as it will cause the tomatoes to get mealy.

Step 4

Top salad with fresh basil leaves just before serving.

Step 5

Note: If using a loaf of bread, cut or tear the bread into 1-inch cubes and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss the cubes with olive oil and bake in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Check it often to make sure the bread doesn’t burn.