Let me start by saying that I am in love with panzanella salad. It’s light, crisp, refreshing and those garlic-infused bread cubes are heavenly! This salad is also super easy to whip up and will make great use of all those wonderful tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in your summer garden.
Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad consisting of cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, a little basil, and garlic-infused toasted bread cubes. It is typically a very popular summer salad and goes great as a side to any BBQ you’re serving up. Some recipes will call for red wine vinegar.
However, I prefer a lovely dark, thick balsamic, which adds a much better flavour. My all-time favourite balsamic vinegar is “25 Star Balsamic” from The Amazing Olive in Port Jefferson, NY.
To save time, you can make the garlic-infused bread cubes ahead of time and store them in a zip lock bag until you need to cut them for making this panzanella salad. Take note; the bread cubes will quickly begin to soak up all of the vegetables’ oil, vinegar, and moisture. For maximum freshness and taste, toss the bread cubes with the salad only about 15 minutes before serving the panzanella salad to avoid soggy, mushy bread. Enjoy!
Mouthwatering Tuscan Panzanella Salad Recipe
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 loaf rustic bread cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar more as needed
- 1 tablespoon shallot minced
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 pinch Kosher salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 2 large tomatoes cut into chunks
- 1 medium English cucumber sliced in half lengthwise and cut into chunks
- 1 small red onion sliced
- ½ cup basil leaves cut into thin ribbons
- For the bread cubes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a saucepan, add your olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, remove from the heat and add the garlic cloves. Set aside and allow the garlic to infuse into the oil. Once the oil is cooled, discard the garlic cloves.
- Toss the bread cubes and 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused oil. Put them in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden and crispy, about 7 to 10 minutes. Occasionally turn the cubes while baking.
- For the vinaigrette, combine the remaining garlic-infused oil with the vinegar, shallot, sugar, salt and pepper and mix well.
- For the salad, toss the toasted bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and basil with the vinaigrette in a big bowl. Put more salt and pepper.
- Set aside the salad for 10 to 15 minutes before serving so the flavours have time to blend. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.