Bread Salad: A No-Cook, 10-Minute Meal


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  44 comments   :  25,492 Views

Panzanella is an Italian salad that can be found on trendy bistro menus in the hot summer months. I'll share a secret with you: This salad was invented when times were tough, as a way to use up stale bread.

Essentially, you make a salad--traditionally with plenty of fresh tomatoes--toss it with a vinaigrette, then add cubed stale or toasted bread just before serving. You can toast up a day-old baguette or fresh bread, depending on what you have in the kitchen. The bread soaks up all the delicious juice from the tomatoes and the tangy vinaigrette. The rest of the summer-fresh vegetables add crunch and freshness.

NOTE: If you're watching your sodium intake, reduce the amount of feta or omit it.

  • Rub a garlic clove on the bread after toasting for instant, healthier croutons.

  • Instead of cubed bread, you could add two cups of cooked grains (couscous, millet, bulgur, quinoa, or brown rice) or even a small whole-wheat pasta (like orzo or ditalini).

  • Customize this salad to suit your palate, using what you have on hand. This is a recipe that leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Add more tomatoes, toss in some drained and rinsed cannellini beans, or add some oregano. This is a chance for you to be creative!

  • Serve this salad with grilled chicken to boost the protein. For a meat-free meal, add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas or cannellini beans (white kidney beans) to the dish.

You might notice that we have a new set for the videos. It's my family's farm in Kentucky. We headed there to shoot some videos and promos for the SparkPeople cookbook, which Stepfanie and I have been working on for months! The tomatoes, some of the herbs, and the peppers came straight from the fields that morning.

View the recipe and comment on the video here.

Have you ever made this salad? If so, do you do anything to personalize it?

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    Pretty well always add brown rice to my salads. My salads are typically LOTS of lettuce, rice, and then a homemade dressing of fresh squeezed orange juice and apple cider vinegar, with varrying spices such as cumin, cayenne, turmeric, onion powder, graam massala, smoked paprika, etc. Then I top with nutritional yeast!! - 10/23/2012   2:59:45 PM
  • 43
    I have been adding pasta or rice to salad for years - i get in some veggies and help my carb craving at the same time! This combo has worked for me for years, now..... - 9/13/2010   12:04:04 AM
  • 42
    Where did the save button go? - 9/4/2010   11:07:58 PM
  • 41
    I have made quinoa salad, and it is delicious. I have never used bread, though. I also make rice salad. - 9/3/2010   11:29:46 AM
  • 40
    That sounds very tasty. Think I'm going to have to make it for my lunch today. - 9/2/2010   10:37:57 AM
  • 39
    Nope, never made that salad. I laugh at the people who comment on Spark recipes and say how the changed this ingredient and added this, etc. etc. and then say that "made" the recipe. That isn't the same food, when they do that to it. - 9/1/2010   11:20:30 PM
  • 38
    I love panzanella salad-especially with hearts of palm, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh basil leaves (chiffonade) and homemade croutons. I was told that it is also very good when you add Italian tuna, i.e. Yellowfin from Trader Joe's... - 9/1/2010   10:18:11 PM
    have to try this one - 9/1/2010   9:39:06 PM
    I make tomato/bread salads all the time. I love them. How do I personalize mine ? By adding marinated mushrooms or artichoke hearts. I may have this for dinner tonight since I'm going to the farmer's market to pick up heirloom tomatoes.
    - 9/1/2010   8:51:52 AM
  • 35
    Sounds great - the only thing I don't have in the house is the bread - now an excuse to get some! MMmmm - got so many fresh herbs too! - 8/31/2010   10:19:35 PM
    I make this salad with fresh basil, a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of salt and fresh grinds of pepper, plus tomatoes and veggies. - 8/31/2010   10:01:04 PM
  • 33
    I've always been curious to try my hand at panzanela. Guess what's on tonight's menu! - 8/31/2010   12:20:56 PM
  • 32
    made this for lunch today. yum! - 8/31/2010   12:05:54 PM
  • 31
    Yes, I've made this salad before. I think I added a tiny bit of bacon to personalize it.

    You mentioned Vidalia onions being in season. If you are still finding those Spring harvested (April to mid-June) sweet onions in the market, you are very lucky. - 8/31/2010   11:37:55 AM
  • 30
    Looking forward to trying this one. Maybe with some whole wheat pasta that I always have on hand. Yum! Thanks for sharing! - 8/31/2010   11:30:45 AM
  • 29
    Sounds good , I will have to try it. - 8/31/2010   11:11:23 AM
  • 28
    This sounds great. I think it would have to be Mozzarella for me too...and probably balsamic vinegar - probably our favourite fig balsamic. - 8/31/2010   10:58:01 AM
    We make this kind of salad a lot. It's such a simple and basic premise and, as stated, you can vary your mixture depending on what you have in the house. A BLT version is also good. - 8/31/2010   10:16:43 AM
  • 26
    Oh, I can't wait to make this and dish it up in portions for lunch. It will make my bosses drool with envy, hahaha. Thanks much! - 8/31/2010   9:41:20 AM
  • 25
    I've made this before with fresh mozzarella and basil (aka authentic panzanella). The dish is simple and tasty, but not my favorite. I prefer a whole grain salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, parsley, and finely diced serrano chiles. Zesty! - 8/31/2010   8:22:24 AM
    I would use fresh mozzarella to avoid the salt in the feta and for sure add tons of fresh basil leaves! sounds awesome, though thanks for sharing
    - 8/31/2010   7:39:35 AM
  • 23
    I've made similar. I start with chopped tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little salt. I break up toasted bagette slices on top, then dig in! It's like you're eating bruschetta with the bread in it rather than on top. - 8/30/2010   11:53:24 PM
  • 22
    I've never had this before, but it sounds good. - 8/30/2010   11:22:56 PM
    I've never had this type of salad before. It looks and sounds really good. I'll have to try it out! - 8/30/2010   10:40:49 PM
  • 20
    So glad to hear mention of the cookbook - 8/30/2010   9:57:11 PM
  • 19
    This looks sooooo good... I'm going to have to make this really soon. ^__^ - 8/30/2010   9:36:52 PM
    I just made this today and I was actually very surprised with how good it tasted! I just used things I had around the house so a ton of tomatoes, thinly sliced japanese cucumbers, white mushrooms, Trader Joe's Champagne Pear Gorgonzola Vinagarette, Feta, and then my bread of choice was challah :) It tasted wonderful! I even thew in a few apples on my second serving. I know my choices made it a little higher in calories, but I missed lunch because of work and I wanted a nice dinner. Thanks for the suggestion! - 8/30/2010   8:52:00 PM
    love this salad adding the bread makes me think like i am cheating... making the salad taste even better. - 8/30/2010   7:13:08 PM
  • 16
    i agree iwth tiggerrd: Never did like stale bread,, croutons,etc,, gags me, but a good old wop salad is the best!! I would put that stale bread in the microwave with a glass of water and steam it back to fresh.. - 8/30/2010   6:42:01 PM
  • 15
    Ohhh, YUM! If only I'd seen this post before I went to the grocery store :( Saved it for later in that case! I have an abundance of little cherry tomatoes that would be great in this! I can't wait to make it :) - 8/30/2010   6:29:06 PM
  • 14
    made gluten free, by cutting hard mozzarella into cubes omitting the croûtons and adding fresh basil leaves. - 8/30/2010   6:10:00 PM
  • NOLABABY1982
    i'll have to try this sounds interesting - 8/30/2010   6:09:34 PM
  • SUNSET09
    I try to limit my sodium intake very chance I get and I like the garlic rubbing! Thanx I will be (more) mindful! - 8/30/2010   5:44:56 PM
  • 11
    Oh my, my mouth is watering! I love Italian food so much...I will add pepperoncinis, vidalia onion, and cubed mozzerella! - 8/30/2010   5:34:16 PM
  • 10
    Wow! I've never liked croutons but this makes them sound tasty :) - 8/30/2010   4:02:26 PM
  • 9
    If your worried about the sodium in the feta cheese, my middle eastern DH has taught me to soak the cheese in water to remove some of the salt. I would do it about an hour before adding it to the salade. - 8/30/2010   2:56:46 PM
  • 8
    I put diced zucchini and roasted peppers in my version. - 8/30/2010   2:46:45 PM
  • 7
    I plan to make this salad for sure. Thank you for the recipe. - 8/30/2010   2:20:25 PM
  • DAISY238
    I've never made this salad before but I plan to. - 8/30/2010   2:03:52 PM
  • 5
    Sounds tasty! I will give it a try! - 8/30/2010   1:47:36 PM
    sounds yummy a good way to use up bread - 8/30/2010   1:46:02 PM
    I can hardly wait to make this - 8/30/2010   1:30:32 PM
  • 2
    I have made one like it before - but only once. I am not a bread kind of person, and I thought it would be good to use up bread I hadn't eaten. Well, it just didn't appeal to me that much more when part of a salad. I'd rather just have the vegetables with dressing. - 8/30/2010   1:25:05 PM

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