Panzanella salad

Tuscan cuisine is renowned for its simplicity and genuineness, and panzanella salad is one of the dishes that best embodies these characteristics. This delicious summer salad based on stale bread is a very old recipe and includes some basic ingredients: Tuscan bread “sciocco” (that is, without salt) soaked in water and vinegar, tomatoes, onion and basil, to which cucumber is usually added (or depending on the area, celery); to these basic ingredients of the Tuscan panzanella you can then add other elements, which are not included in the original recipe but can make the dish richer and more nutritious (I talk more about it at the end of the recipe).
A dish of peasant origin, born with the aim of recovering dry bread, the panzanella salad is a timeless recipe that celebrates the authentic flavors and simplicity of Italian cuisine. With its mix of fresh and genuine ingredients, it is a perfect salad for hot summer days, also excellent for a picnic or for the lunch box.
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panzanella salad italian bread salad authentic Tuscan recipe of stale bread and tomato salad italian old recipe by tastycorner

Video recipe of the day

  • DifficultyVery easy
  • CostVery cheap
  • Preparation time15 Minutes
  • Rest time4 Hours
  • Serving4 servings
  • Cooking methodNo cooking
  • CuisineItalian regional
  • SeasonalitySummer
  • RegionToscana

Ingredients for the traditional Italian bread salad

8.5 oz tuscan bread (stale; 240 gr)
2/3 cup water (approx; 160 ml)
3 tablespoons vinegar
10.5 oz tomatoes (300 gr)
1 cucumber
1/2 red onion
6 leaves basil
2 pinches salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
q.s. pepper

273,36 Kcal
calories per serving
Info Close
  • Power 273,36 (Kcal)
  • Carbohydrates 34,14 (g) of which sugars 4,30 (g)
  • Proteins 5,56 (g)
  • Fat 13,07 (g) of which saturated 1,63 (g)of which unsaturated 0,10 (g)
  • Fibers 2,99 (g)
  • Sodium 103,81 (mg)

Indicative values for a portion of 300 g processed in an automated way starting from the nutritional information available on the CREA* and FoodData Central** databases. It is not food and / or nutritional advice.

* CREATES Food and Nutrition Research Center: ** U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019.


1 Salad Bowl
1 Chopping Board
1 Knife

How to prepare Tuscan panzanella salad

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To prepare the panzanella salad, start by cutting the stale bread into slices. Then reduce it into cubes using your hands or a knife. Put the bread in a bowl and wet it with about 2/3 cup (160 ml) of water and 3 tbsp of vinegar.

soak the stale bread with water and vinegar for the Italian panzanella

The amount of water and vinegar needed for the bread salad are variable and depend on two factors: 1) how dry the bread is: the drier it is, the more water will be needed 2) personal tastes: some prefer a crunchier panzanella, others a softer one ; for a more delicate flavour, you can also reduce the amount of vinegar.

However, consider that the bread salad must rest a few hours after it has been seasoned and that tomatoes and cucumbers will release vegetation water and soften it further. Mix well with a spoon or with your hands to make the bread absorb the water and let it rest for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the vegetables: wash the tomatoes and cut them into cubes. Peel the cucumber and cut it into pieces.

Cut the cucumber into cubes for the Italian bread salad

Cut the onion into very thin slices. Take the bread back and, if it is very wet, squeeze it a little with your hands. Transfer it to a large salad bowl

Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, two pinches of salt and a grind of pepper. Complete with 4 abundant spoons of extra virgin olive oil. Mix carefully, then add the basil leaves broken up with your hands.

add tomato and basil to the Italian panzanella bread salad

Stir again with a spoon, so that the ingredients blend perfectly. Cover the salad bowl and let the Tuscan panzanella rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving, so that the bread is properly flavored.

en_v_ panzanella salad italian bread salad authentic Tuscan recipe of stale bread and tomato salad italian old recipe by tastycorner

How to store the Italian bread salad

The panzanella salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tips and variations

What I have shown you is the traditional recipe for panzanella salad, widespread in a large part of Tuscany; however, we must not forget that in some areas of the same region celery is used instead of cucumber, which must be cut into slices after having carefully cleaned it.
While the traditional recipe is always welcome, there are some variations of panzanella that are worth trying. For example, you can add capers, olives or anchovies for an extra touch of flavour. Also, you can make panzanella a richer and more substantial dish by adding canned tuna or mozzarella.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What can I use instead of Tuscan bread for panzanella?

If you can’t find traditional Tuscan bread, use rustic Italian bread.

Where does the name “panzanella” come from?

The word “panzanella” comes from the Tuscan word “panzana”, which means bread, a basic product of peasant food. Obviously it was not thrown away when it became dry, but it was reused to create new dishes, adding the vegetables that were available at that time. For this reason, when we talk about traditional peasant recipes – another example, to stay in Tuscany, is the ribollita soup – in my opinion, it doesn’t make much sense to try to trace the original recipe: each peasant put in what he had at that moment.

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