Panzanella (Classic Italian Tomato Salad)

The Recipe: Aiiiii, summer tomatoes. When they're the very ripest, the very juiciest, the deepest color, it's the classic Italian tomato salad called Panzanella that moves my summer table to silence. What a salad, what a meal.

Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.

~Recipe updated & republished 2015 for a little weekend cooking inspiration~

Panzanella (Classic Italian Tomato Salad) ♥, a must-make summer salad. Worthy of an occasion, we make it a meal! Vegan. WW5.
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"Thanks for a terrific recipe!" ~ Kirsten @ Farm Fresh Feasts

A small town may be better measured by the stamp of its spirit than the size of its population or the span of its geography.

There’s a small-town substance to this place we call home. It’s true for St Louis itself but especially the neighborhoods that readers of this paper know best, the ones of old trees and new cafés, strong schools and smart kids, low fences and good neighbors. (Does one begat the other?)

There’s the noon’n’six hymns from the bell tower at First Pres. And the prime-corner real estate of budding entrepreneurs who operate summer’s lemonade stands. And morning walkers who’d be strangers except that we know each others’ dogs by name. And a hush on holiday mornings, especially when flags ripple in remembrance. And the haunting horn of the train that rumbles through on Sundays around bedtime. And a familiar name in an obituary, the neighbor’s cousin, wasn’t he?, the one whose sister moved away but came back to raise her family and whose brother’s grandchildren are in Little League, now, with yours?

This is Kitchen Parade’s debut in the Webster-Kirkwood Times and the South County Times but my mom started the column for a small-town newspaper way back in 1959.

I hope that it fast becomes a turn-to corner of this newspaper for both new and experienced cooks, one that feels like sharing a coffee (and a recipe!) over the kitchen table with an old friend.

ALANNA's TIPS PANZANELLA is simple country fare but when the tomatoes are ripe, it’s food for kings. It’s only as good as its ingredients so decent bread, vinegar, oil and salt are also in order. For bread, stale bread works great. Just make sure it's a sturdy, hearty bread. We're big fans of the sour dough loaves from Whole Foods. Another idea? Substitute slices of leftover cornbread for the hearty bread. If you don't want to fire up the grill, just rub the bread with garlic, then fry until slightly crisp in a bit of bacon grease. A tender-skinned English cucumber works, so does a just-picked garden cucumber, though you'll probably want to peel it (or at least "stripe" the peel) and scoop out the center seeds.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 15 minutes
Serves 4
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 slices hearty bread
  • 4 perfectly ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 a cucumber, diced fine
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons capers
  • Grilled bread, torn into pieces
  • About 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • To taste, salt
  • To taste, freshly ground pepper

Rub the garlic clove on the bread, then grill or broil both sides until lightly toasted.

Core and dice the tomatoes. (Optional: If the tomatoes' skins are unappealing, it takes only a few extra minutes to "blanch" tomatoes. Just drop them into boiling water for a minute, then rinse under cold water until the skins peel off easily with a knife. For "all meat" tomatoes, cut them in half, then remove and discard the seeds with a small spoon. Chop the remaining tomato meat.)

Combine the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, basil, garlic and capers in a large serving bowl. (Stop here if making in advance.)

Just before serving, stir in the bread pieces, letting them soak up the tomato juice for a minute. Splash with the vinegar and olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Best served right away, it can be a meal in itself!

LEFTOVERS But here's a way to use up any leftovers – or reason to make extra! Just remove the bread, then toss what remains with hot pasta and some good grated parmesan. Even my dad, who's not all that keen on pasta, says, "This is a really refreshing way to eat pasta." I love it too!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 190 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 26g Carb; 5g Fiber; 553mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4 & WW Points Plus 5.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!
A LITTLE HISTORY Back in 2005, this was Kitchen Parade's debut column and recipe in my very own hometown newspaper, the Webster-Kirkwood Times and its sister publication the South County Times. They're small-town weekly newspapers with a combined circulation of about 100,000. For a fifth-generation newspaper person, it was an amazing honor to be back in print! Too bad, though, when the financial collapse occurred in 2008, the paper dropped my column. But there was a big upside! I was able to expand Kitchen Parade's frequency and content to match a much broader audience, not just a local one. And since 2011, of course, I've been back in print with a much larger audience with a weekly column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Yes, it's true. When one door closes, another opens.

For Summer's Very Best Tomatoes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Creamy Ricotta with Tomato-Cucumber-Corn Salad Red Rice with Tomatoes Summer's Tomato Soup
BLT Pasta Salad Lamb with Sweet Tomato Jam Grilled Steak with Summer Tomato Salad
~ more tomato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/22/2007

    Sounds delicious! Congratulations on your debut in print. That is really impressive!


  2. Anonymous7/22/2007

    I love panzanella but have never tried toasting the bread- I bet that gives a great textural component. Will try that next time!


  3. Anonymous7/22/2007

    I have always wanted to try making panzanella! I have to try this soon, while tomatoes are still in season. Thanks for sharing :)


  4. Anonymous7/22/2007

    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. And congratulations on the newspaper thing. Too cool.


  5. Anonymous8/05/2008

    I made a tasty version tonight that was months in the making! I froze dried ends of cracked wheat bread in the spring thinking about making this come summer when my tomatoes were abundant.
    I sauteed the bread in garlic flavored olive oil since I was in a garlic-slicing mood. Then I chopped up a quart of tomatoes, a cuke, and half an onion. I mixed up a red wine, olive oil, and garlic vinaigrette and poured it over everything.
    To garnish the salad I found a bit of cooked bacon and sprinkled it over top.
    We nibbled on it the whole time it was sitting on the table!

    Yum! Thanks for a terrific recipe!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna