Italian Bread Salad

Prep Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

Choose a mix of many-colored heirloom tomatoes for this Italian bread salad, also known as panzanella. Italian country bread makes the salad a little heartier than most.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

  • 1 ½ pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into thick wedges

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled in strips, halved lengthwise, and sliced ½ inch thick

  • 1 small bulb fennel, stalks removed, bulb halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

  • cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

  • 4 ½ -inch-thick slices whole-wheat country bread

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves

  • 4 ounces ricotta salata cheese, shaved


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, onion, and olives. Toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

  2. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a baking sheet, toast bread until light brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes a side. Place the bread on a work surface and rub cut side of garlic against bread. Discard garlic. Cut bread into 2-inch pieces.

  3. To serve: Place bread in four shallow bowls. Top with tomato salad and scatter basil and cheese over top.

Cook's Notes

Although traditional recipes call for adding the bread at the beginning, saving it until the end keeps it soft but not mushy.

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