Panzanella with cucumber, tomatoes and bread in a bowl

An easy guide to Panzanella: The best way to use stale bread

So what is this Tuscan bread salad all about? Why is Panzanella such a great way to use stale bread - and how do you make it?
  Published:  14 Aug 2017    |      1 minute read

Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan recipe, which perfectly blends fresh ingredients with stale bread for an easy vegetarian salad. It's a great example of a healthy, sustainable and quick recipe, best enjoyed in the summer for the seasonal flavours of the salad vegetables.

This recipe is also a wonderful way to use up stale bread that we might normally waste - here in the UK, we throw away 32% of the bread we buy.

What you need to make panzanella (bread salad):

  • 250g stale sourdough or wholemeal bread, ripped into 2–3cm pieces
  • 60ml good red wine vinegar
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 500g cherry or good-quality ripe tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 celery heart, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 50g stoned olives
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Lots of good olive oil

How to make panzanella:

  1. Put the stale bread into a wide, shallow serving dish. Put the vinegar, oil and garlic into a bowl and mix together, then drizzle over the bread, mixing it in well with your hands.
  2. Halve the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and add to the bread.
  3. Set aside a few leaves of basil for the garnish and scatter the rest over the bread, along with the celery, onion and olives. Sprinkle with a little oregano and drizzle with lots of good olive oil.
  4. Cover the dish and set to one side in a cool place until ready to serve.

For a more substantial lunch, experiment with extra ingredients - capers, roasted peppers, cheese or beans all work well.

This recipe for the Tuscan original, called Salvatore's Panzanella, is featured in Leon: Fast Vegetarian. This easy cook book offers a range of great ideas for anyone who wants to cook great food with less – or no – meat.

If you're looking for a new way to make this great bread salad, try Jamie Oliver's panzanella recipe too.