Taste the Market: Panzanella

A Panzanella is a simple bread salad that is thought to have originated in Tuscany.

Classically containing chunks of toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, chopped onions, cucumbers, and basil tossed with a simple vinaigrette, a Panzanella can be made with any variety of vegetables.

In fact I love to browse the farmers' market and choose the best picks of the day. And I grab a loaf of Italian bread from the market as a neutral palette.

This past Saturday at the Kenosha Public Markets, I started with two pints of early cherry tomatoes. Browsing further, I picked up some sweet onions and some beautiful red bell peppers. I came across some amazing looking cucumbers, but honestly I can't stand cucumbers, so those were a pass.

All I needed was a loaf of fresh bread from La Tarte Bakery and a bunch of fresh basil.

I like to have a wide mix of flavors and textures, so for this version, I left the tomatoes raw but roasted the peppers and onions. But the reverse would have also worked nicely. I also could have left all of the vegetables raw.

Panzanella Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided

  • 2 sweet onions, chopped

  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips vertically

  • 2 (3.8 ounce) cans sliced black olives, drained

Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Place tomatoes in a colander over a large bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Drain; reserving liquid.

  3. Combine onions and peppers in a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Spoon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

  4. Spread bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and crisp, about 15 minutes.

  5. Mix together tomatoes, pepper and onion mixture, bread chunks, basil and olives in a large bowl.

  6. Combine reserved tomato liquid with remaining vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt) and whisk until well-blended.

  7. Pour vinaigrette over bread mixture and toss together.

  8. Serve at room temperature.

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