Panzanella is a simple, rustic Italian bread and tomato salad that bursts with flavour despite its humble ingredients. Fresh tomatoes, basil, red onion and day-old bread in a tangy, umami (thanks to an unusual ingredient) vinaigrette are all you need to enjoy this bright and colourful salad!
As with all simple recipes, panzanella only shines when you use the freshest, highest-quality ingredients. That’s why I’ve been waiting literally ten months to make this recipe. Living in Spain, we do get a pretty good choice of tomatoes in the summer (for gazpacho, of course), but there’s no point in making panzanella (or gazpacho) with watery, flavourless winter tomatoes.
For this panzanella recipe I’ve used a container of tri-colour cherry tomatoes from my neighbourhood Aldi, but you can use any type of ripe, juicy tomato. A generous handful of fresh basil and thinly-sliced red onion for crunch work their magic to turn stale bread into one of the most delicious salads you’ve ever tasted!
Tying it all together is the vinaigrette, again very simple: olive oil, red wine vinegar, a touch of garlic and miso paste. I know what you’re thinking; miso paste? That’s not very Italian! Certainly not, but it gives the vinaigrette a delicious umami undertone that you would get from the anchovies that you often find in panzanella recipes.
Of course the miso paste is totally optional; you can leave it out and still have a delicious salad, but it does give the salad a little something extra that you won’t quite be able to put your finger on. Believe me when I say that it doesn’t make the salad taste like miso soup!
This recipe yields enough to feed four as a side. It’s great served alongside other delicious summer vegetable recipes like this vegan minestrone soup or these stuffed round zucchini. Of course if you’re vegan like me, you probably often have hearty salads like this as a main dish.
You can easily double the ingredients to feed more and you don’t need to worry too much about exact quantities. Just try to get a good ratio of bread to tomato to basil and enough vinaigrette to moisten the bread to a chewable consistency!
Panzanella is a simple, rustic Italian bread and tomato salad that bursts with flavour despite its humble ingredients.
20 minPrep Time
20 minTotal Time
- 600 grams (21 oz) fresh tomatoes, I used cherry but any variety is good
- ½ teaspoon salt
- A loaf (about 300 grams / 10.5 oz) of stale crusty bread
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced or microplaned
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- Half a medium red onion, thinly sliced
- A generous handful (about 30 grams / 1 oz) fresh basil, larger leaves torn
- Pepper, to taste
- Slice the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and place them in a colander inside a bowl or on a plate. Sprinkle over the salt and give it a good stir. Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, to collect the tomato juices.
- Meanwhile tear the bread into pieces more or less the same size as your chopped tomatoes.
- Once the tomatoes have released their juices, combine the juice, olive oil, vinegar, miso paste and garlic. I put it in a mason jar and shook it up.
- Toss together the tomatoes, bread, red onion, capers, basil and vinaigrette. Set aside for a few minutes to let the flavours mingle and the bread soften to a chewable consistency then add a few grinds of pepper and serve.
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