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Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) With Homegrown Tomatoes

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
Lewis Grizzard

We are up to our ears in tomatoes and we love it!

At the start of April we bought tomato seedlings in the hopes we would have the pleasure of a few homegrown tomatoes over the summer. Last year’s efforts were a bit grim so our expectations were not high. I am delighted to report that this has been the best tomato harvest we have ever had in the 3 years of growing our own.

Panzanella is a wonderful way to use up stale bread and hi-light the beautiful flavour of fresh tomatoes – preferably picked straight off the vine! We have a fantastic selection of tomatoes including Roma, Citrina, Sungold and Green Zebra. Nothing hits the spot like a freshly made salad full of Mediterranean flavours and tomatoes you have grown yourself.

Normally panzanella uses stale bread but if you don’t have any on hand you can always use fresh. Just cut it into bite-sized chunks and place on a baking tray in a low temperature oven. You don’t want to toast the bread – just dry it out a little.

Here is my recipe for summer in a bowl.

Luna Raye’s Panzanella or Italian Bread Salad
(Serves 2-3)


3 cups of stale bread (I used a baguette)

A generous handful of tomatoes halved (approx ¾ of a cup) Use a mixture of tomatoes if you can (I used Citrina, Roma and Sungold)

1 small red pepper diced

¼ Spanish onion finely sliced

3 cloves of garlic (I am a garlicoholic so use fewer cloves if you prefer)

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

3-4 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Handful of basil leaves roughly torn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Add the bread chunks to a large bowl

In a separate bowl add the tomatoes red pepper, onion, garlic, pinch of salt, about ½ the basil and mix well

Add the tomato mixture to the bread chunks and toss so everything is gently mixed

Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic mixture over the top and add a touch more salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cover and leave for 45 minutes to an hour (you can put it in the fridge but I left mine on the counter top – I find the flavours come out better when it is a little warm)

Just before you serve add the remaining basil and toss everything again. Check to make sure you are happy with the seasoning

The bread should have soaked up all the oil, vinegar and tomato juices so it should be moist but not soggy

Serve up and Enjoy!


4 Responses to “Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) With Homegrown Tomatoes”

  1. Carol says:

    I want to grow tomatoes!This looks yummy.

  2. Luna this looks delightful! I love Panzanella and your home grown tomatoes are beautiful.


  3. Luna says:

    Thanks so much Kimberly – it is a wonderfully easy (and very tasty) dish to make. I was pleased as I had more success with my tomatoes this year – in fact we have a huge amount still ripening on the vines (I can’t wait)! I love your blog by the way – the photos are amazing. Just looking at them has made my mouth water. I am sorely disappointed I don’t have your ‘Roasted King Salmon over Pesto Farro with spring vegetables and roasted shrimp in a lemon Cherry Tomato sauce’ – in front of me right now!

  4. Luna says:

    It’s pretty damn delicious! I have been pleasantly surprised at how well my tomatoes have grown this year – despite the constant threat of snails….. You should give them a try!

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