Classic Panzanella Updated with Croutons and the Best Balsamic Dressing

Updated Panzanella Salad

When I came across an article online from the Seattle Times about Panzanella, I knew some of my tomatoes were destined for greatness. There was a Panzanella I knew I’d love! One with lovely, slightly crispy, slightly chewy home-made “croutons” in it.

Updated Panzanella Salad

Updated Panzanella Salad

I admit to a bit of an aversion to some Panzanellas – and to soggy bread. Not a problem in this salad. We ate this to death, three of us at the house. Polished it off. Practically licked the plates clean.

The recipe said six servings and I had actually made more – I just had to use up more of our tomatoes…and we still ate it all. It’s that good. Or maybe we’re just piggy piggies. Or both, lol!! It was pretty much our meal. There’s a lot of olive oil in this but the saving grace – it’s the good kind of oil, full of Omega-3.

Classic Panzanella Updated with Croutons and the Best Balsamic Dressing

Classic Panzanella Updated with Croutons and the Best Balsamic Dressing


The dressing is fantastic, too; a bit of a departure using Balsamic, but we loved it. I made a few slight adaptions to it, but in the future this is one I’ll double for another salad later in the week. The combo of earthy Balsamic and zippy Red Wine Vinegars -ah-maze-ing!

Ya just have to use good tomatoes and you’ve gotta use a good bread. A nice crusty Italian loaf, or lacking that and not wanting to take a trip to the bakery, my store’s “take and bake” French baguettes stood in. Here’s where you’ll want to pull out the “good” olive oil and Balsamic, but from there you can add all kinds of things to your Panzanella. We kept it simple…

Classic Panzanella Updated with Croutons and the Best Balsamic Dressing

Classic Panzanella Updated with Croutons and the Best Balsamic Dressing



Updated Panzanella Salad

  • Author: adapted from Seattle Times
  • Total Time: 25 minutes + sit time
  • Yield: 6 to 7 servings 1x
  • Category: Salads
  • Cuisine: American



Toasted Bread Croutons:

  • 4 cups of 1-inch bread cubes cut from a loaf of leftover rustic French or Italian bread (roughly half of a large loaf)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed


  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic
  • 2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoons Dijon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 or 5 grinds black pepper (a bit less than 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • 3 or 4 medium to large tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in half then thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into 1” chunks
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves, in ribbons, divided
  • Vinaigrette
  • Toasted Bread Croutons


Toasted Bread Croutons:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss the bread cubes in 2 tablespoons olive oil; add more oil if needed to coat the bread cubes thoroughly without drenching them.

Spread the cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bread is crispy like a crouton. Turn several times, adding a bit more olive oil halfway through if the bread doesn’t seem well coated.

Let the bread cool.


Make the vinaigrette: Mince garlic as finely as possible, then smash it against the cutting board with the side of the knife. Place in a bowl with the vinegar, mustard and salt, and pepper.

Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until all of the oil is incorporated. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Let vinaigrette sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before adding to the salad.


Mix tomatoes, onion and bell peppers in a salad bowl. Add half the basil and a little salt. Add 2 tablespoons vinaigrette to salad, toss and let sit for 15 minutes.

Add the bread cubes and the remaining vinaigrette, mix everything together and let sit for at least an hour or up to four hours in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Right before serving, top the salad with the remaining basil leaves cut into ribbons.

Keywords: Balsamic Vinegar, Bell Peppers, Bread, Croutons, Italian, Panzanella, Red onion, Salad, Salad Dressings, Tomatoes

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Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 400
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 29 g 45 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 15 %
Monounsaturated Fat 16 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 296 mg 12 %
Potassium 31 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 8 g 3 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 6 %
Sugars 2 g
Protein 0 g 0 %
Vitamin A 76 %
Vitamin C 26 %
Calcium 15 %
Iron 18 %

I’ll be sharing this recipe on Fiesta Friday #138, Angie’s Link Party – and I’m hosting this week with the incomparable Johanna of French Gardener Dishes. I hope you’ll join us there as well as on Throwback Thursday, a weekly endeavor that includes myself and a couple of great blogger/friends!

22 thoughts on “Updated Panzanella Salad

  1. I have to admit I’ve had an aversion to panzanella based on nothing really. But this does look and sound delicious! I’d come over and help you eat the double batch!

  2. I’ve always made panzanella like this I also have a bit of an aversion to the soggy bread and also to stale bread I like to toast fresh bread. Your salad looks fantastic you can see just how fresh and juicy those tomatoes are. This is one of my favorite meals.

  3. Lots of great tomato recipes but as I’m not a fan other than in things like chili or marinara sauce, I’m not commenting much. Oh, and I DO buy ready made salsa. 🙂

    • 🙂 I buy and make, but don’t can. Boy, I should have, lol! We get the best jars of Salsa from a guy near my Dad’s house so we’re spoiled (and he’s a little pricey but Dad loves it!)

    • I’m not a fan of pickles of most kinds … barring pickled ginger and some quick pickled slaw to serve with pupusas or banh mi. With the small amounts I use, it’s just not worthwhile canning myself.

  4. Wow that salad looks dreamy good! All we have left are small green tomatoes, and it’s supposed to freeze again tonight dang it! I harvested the last of the red tomatoes over the weekend and canned them. We plan on harvesting the green tomatoes after work tonight and putting them in a paper bag to ripen, as it’s not worth covering them any more at this stage of the game. I assume those are red bell peppers you used, as the only green I see in the salad is basil! 🙂

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