How To Make Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella)

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Here’s a fantastic recipe for how to make Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella) by Italian Chef Chicca Maione. She can even teach you the art of making this amazing starter in person through her cooking classes (If you are looking for a great vacation).

Panzanella is a Tuscan summer bread salad: peasant food, and a way of making stale bread palatable when there was little else to go with it. It’s an extremely popular antipasto/first course at Simone Ciattini’s La Baracchina, a trattoria in the hills just south of Florence.

Simone notes that, like many other bread-based dishes such as ribollita or pappa al pomodoro, panzanella has become considerably richer since the end of World War II because people can now afford to add more of the other ingredients that support the bread. Considering that the other ingredients are tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, this does make one think. So what do you need for Panzanella?

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Let’s Make Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella)!

Diet Considerations

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Dairy Free

Ingredients (Serves 5 – 7)

  • 5 cups stale sourdough bread
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes (about 2 pounds) cut into ½ -inch cubes
  • 10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • ½ medium red onion or 4 small sweet onions
  • 2 cups basil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Prep Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cook Time: 10 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven

    Preheat the oven to 180°C / 400°F.

  2. Chop and toast the bread

    Chop the bread into little cubes and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes. If your bread is too soft it will turn into a paste so make sure it is crunchy when after it is toasted!

  3. Prepare the onions

    Chop the onions very finely and put them in a bowl with ½ of the vinegar, ½ of the olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and set aside for 15 minutes until onions are softened.

  4. Mix together

    In a large bowl, mix the bread with the onions and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and the vinegar. Set aside at room temperature until the bread softens but is not mushy, about 30-40 minutes depending on the consistency of your bread.

    Note: If bread is too crunchy you can add more vinegar.

  5. Add the rest of the ingredients

    Add the tomato cubes, season with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and a little bit more balsamic vinegar. Add basil in abundance. Now it is ready to serve!

    Note: If you like you can add other vegetables such as cucumbers, green olives, carrots, or raw bell peppers, you can even add tuna fish!

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Need Help?


Plan it into your week

The best way to remember to make it is to plan for it. Learn about meal prep through our article Meal Prep 101, by dietician Shannon Costello.


Print out the ingredient list

Need the ingredients list on hand? Simply pull up the article on your phone (it’s mobile compatible) or click here to print it out.


Email Chicca for help

Chicca’s here to help. If you need assistance with the recipe, email her at


Take the class

Feeling adventurous? Take a trip over to Italy and take the class, led by Chicca, on how to make this starter (as well as many other amazing dishes)!

Feeling really adventurous? Enjoy a week of classes and an authentic experience of life in Tuscany, Italy, through her all-inclusive Cooking Vacation.

About the Author

Chicca Maione

Chicca Maione

Italian Chef

Chicca is a Tuscan-based architect and passionate chef of home-cooked food. After many years of cooking for family and friends, she found her calling: teaching people how to cook authentic homemade food while sharing recipes and stories about her incredible culture. She has spread the traditional-Italian and typical-Tuscan cuisine in Italy and abroad for the past 19 years.
Full Bio

* Recipe posted with permission from the author, Chicca Maione, at Cooking in Tuscany.

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