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Tuscan panzanella, tomato bread salad

Breakfast is universally acknowledged as one of the main meals of the day: milk, coffee, fruit juices, cookies, brioches, and maybe yoghurt, home made jam and, why not, some pizza.

This is nowadays breakfast. In the past, when my grandma was a child, it was totally different. They used to have panzanella (Tuscan bread salad) for breakfast. I love panzanella, because it’s refreshing, light and good, a summer dish… for lunch or dinner, not for breakfast!


Panzanella was summer breakfast, made with leftover bread. During the winter, they used to have polenta to start the day in a glorious way! It used to be adult people’s breakfast, grandma used to have milk instead – since they had a cow and a goat in the farm. Men who went to work in the fields at dawn made the panzanella in a lunch box and brought it with them in a basket. When breakfast time came, they used to eat the panzanella drinking some home made red wine.

Nowadays, panzanella is a refreshing first course to have during the first summer days.

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5 from 1 vote

Panzanella, Tuscan bread salad

Course Main
Cuisine Tuscan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Giulia


  • 300 g of stale Tuscan bread
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 fresh red onion
  • A few leaves of fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar


  • Tear the bread into large pieces, put it in a large bowl and soak it with cold water. They used to make panzanella with leftover homemade baked bread: it had a very different and better flavour and took a lot of time to soak up. Nowadays 5 minutes often would do. The bread will absorb the water like a sponge.
  • Slice the onion thinly and collect it on a little bowl. Soak it in cold water, to quench its sharp taste.
  • Chop the tomatoes and slice thinly the cucumber.
  • When the bread is soft, squeeze it removing all the excess water and crumble it with your hands into a large bowl.
  • Dress the bread crumbles with the well-drained onion, the chopped tomatoes, the sliced cucumber and the fresh basil leaves, torn roughly with your hands.
  • Season with salt and a few grids of black pepper, then drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. Finish with the red wine vinegar to taste: it will brighten the flavour of this bread salad, so don’t be stingy with it.
  • Set aside for half an hour in the fridge, then it’s ready to be eaten.
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This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. stupenda e profumata con il basilico e la cipolla dolce e croccante…
    mia zia ci mette anche delle acciughe sotto sale a pezzetti…

    grande giulia!

  2. @ Marco: grazie, che piacere che mi fa vederti qui!! ottima l’idea delle acciughe! ciao
    @ Cookin’ Canuck: Grandma surprised me too, when she told me about this peculiar breakfast! ciao!

  3. really I very liked your dishes, I work at italian restaraunt in Russia, and I often got ideas of you perfect cusine/ respect!!!!

    1. Thank you Vadim, thank you so much for your feedback! it’s incredible to know that my recipes are sometimes used in a restaurant in Russia, so cool! If you need tips and ideas, just ask, I’ll be happy to help you!

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