A spin on the classic Italian Panzanella salad, this recipe is made with grilled zucchini, ripe tomatoes, stale bread (croutons), mozzarella cheese and fresh basil for an ultimate summer potluck salad combo.
What is a Panzanella Salad?
Panzanella is a Tuscan chopped salad that uses stale bread, tomatoes and onions dressed in an olive oil and vinegar. This Italian bread salad is super versatile so you can add any vegetable or herbs you have on hand, and serve it at your next bbq or summer get together.
Think elevated Caprese salad, but way more flavorful and fun.
What Goes in a Panzanella Salad?
While tomatoes, onions and stale or day old bread (think homemade croutons) are the staple of what goes in a Panzanella salad. Lots of people also add fresh cucumber, bell peppers and olives for an extra crunch and flavor.
You could even add prosciutto, if you wanted to really kick it up a notch and are not entertaining any vegetarian folks.
Typically, I make my Panzanella salad it with cucumbers too, but for the summer it felt right to use zucchini. For me, this makes this mozzarella and bread salad a summer treat.
Panzanella Salad Ingredients
Here is what you’ll need to make this summer salad recipe with zucchini:
(scroll down for the recipe)
- Crusty bread
Leftover baguette, ciabatta or sourdough are perfect for this salad. It’s a great way to use up bread that is no longer fresh. Typically, for this salad the bread is cut in croutons and then baked in the oven, but I prefer to lightly grill my croutons in olive oil. (This helps the bread to not get mushy).
You can’t make this salad without ripe tomatoes. Any tomatoes you have on hand will work for this Italian bread salad. I like using cherry tomatoes so that each bite of the Panzanella salad has an even portion of all of its ingredients.
Though mozzarella is option ( you can use Feta for a Greek version of this cheese and bread salad), but for me the combination of ripe tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil is unbeatable. You can buy a ball of fresh mozzarella and simpy cut it into small bite size piecer or opt for small marinated mozzarella balls, like the ones I found at Trader Joes.
- Fresh basil
Basil truly brings all of the ingredients together in this salad. Don’t skip it and don’t opt for dried version. Fresh is the way to go here.
Traditionally, panzanella uses crisp fresh cucumber, but I switched to grilled zucchini for a more summer feel. You can certainly just use cucumber.
- Olive oil & balsamic vinegar
I use the olive oil to toss the bread in olive oil before grilling it in a pan, and then use a lot more to
dress the salad. Good olive oil goes a long way here. You can also use red wine vinegar for this salad, but I prefer the sweetness of balsamic vinegar.
- Salt, pepper and oregano
The oregano and some heavy salt & pepper really help bring out the flavors of this salad. Don’t skimp on these.
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What goes well with a Panzanella Salad?
I like serving this salad as a side to whatever meat or chicken we are grilling. Grilled chicken, grilled meat or even seafood such as shrimp or salmon pair really well with this bread salad. That’s why summer panzanella salad is perfect to bring to a potluck dinner or a bbq get together.
Does Panzanella Salad Keep?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. This zucchini salad is best served shortly after its made. After a while the bread becomes soggy and the salad can turn to mush. However, don’t let that discourage you from making it.
The truth is that I never really had Panzanella leftovers because it’s too darn delicious.
How to Make Stale Bread Soft Again
Panzanella salad is the best use of left over bread. Even if you have rock hard ciabatta bread you can make the most lovely bread salad out of stale or old bread. Even frozen bread can be revived with little effort.
To heat up old bread, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. and then wrap the bread in a damp towel. Place on a baking sheet and place in an oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
Panzanella Salad Recipe with Grilled Zucchini
This easy salad comes together in just a few minutes. I like to grill my bread, but you can simply toast it for a more crouton like feel. Then simply layer the ingredients you chose together and toss gently with really good olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. And thank me later.
Print Ready Easy Summer Panzanella Recipe
Panzanella Salad with Grilled Zucchini
- 1 cup 1/2 French baguette or small ciabatta bread loaf, cut in 1 inch cubes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 large zucchini, sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced
- 4 tbsp good olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced or cubed or 1 cup small mozzarella balls, halved.
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
- Pour one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and toast bread until
it has browned. Transfer the bread to a shallow salad plate.
- Pour another tablespoon of olive oil and add zucchini slices
to the pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat, and transfer grilled zucchini
to the salad plate.
- Now add tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to the salad dish.
- In a small ramekin mix the remaining olive oil with salt and
pepper and oregano and pour over the mixture.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.
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