Panzanella or marinated bread salad  Traditional Tuscan recipe

Panzanella is a typical Tuscan recipe. It was born in Florence and then spread from Florence everywhere. It's a very cheap and simple-to-do recipe. It started out as peasant or farm workers' food. If there was any bread left you can use it to make this typical marinated bread salad combining it with these vegetables in summer: tomatoes, onion, basil, cucumbers if liked. My husband and I learnt how to make panzanella in Tuscany some years ago by local women while we were on holiday at the seaside near Grosseto. Panzanella is an authentic Mediterranean diet recipe.

Tuscan panzanella - marinated bread salad - the photo shows a bowl filled with bread reduced to tiny pieces, tomato strips, basil lpieces and red onion slices
zoom »
Panzanella or marinated bread salad

Ingredients / Serves 2

  • 200g (7 ounces) good-quality stale bread
  • 400g (14 ounces) ripe but firm tomatoes
  • 120g (4 1/4 ounces) red onion
  • Some fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt
  • Cucumber if liked
  • Time:
    preparation: 30 minutes
    plus soaking time
    no cooking
    total: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty:
    easy recipe
  • How many calories in a serving?
    Calories: 506 (kcal) 26 % GDA (*)- 2117 (kJ)
    Protein: 10.6 (g) 22 % GDA
    Total fat: 21.0 (g) 31 % GDA
    Total carbohydrate: 73.3 (g) 28 % GDA
    Sugars: 11.8 (g) 14 % GDA

Look at infographic of nutrition facts

Download free PDF version (104 download).
or use QRCode with your smartphone

Tuscan panzanella recipe

Look at our video for more details. Below step-by-step directions to make panzanella dish at home!


  • - Peel onion and cut into thin slices.
    Put onion slices in a bowl and cover with cold water for 30 to 60 minutes to remove its intense flavor.
  • - Cut bread into slices, put in a bowl and cover with cold water.
    Soak until soft.
    Soaking time depends on how many days your bread is old.
  • - Peel tomatoes, remove their seeds and any juice.
    Cut their flesh into short and thin strips as you can see in the photo.
  • - Wash basil and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.
  • - When bread is sodden take pieces of it a little at a time and squeeze them between your hands to remove the excess of water.
    Then rub them between your hands to crumble very well as you can see in the photo.
    Put all your bread in a large bowl and add all other ingredients except vinegar.
    Remember to pat dry the onion slices!
  • - Season to taste with salt.
    Stir with delicacy and put apart in a cool place for about one to two hours.

Just before serving

  • - Add vinegar.
    Stir very well and serve.



  • - To have the best result choose ingredients accurately and treat bread according to the habits of local people as I have just described.
  • - Tomatoes must be ripe but firm. The better quality they are the more fantastic your salad will taste.
  • - If you choose fresh young red onions you can avoid to soak them.
  • - Your basil must smell.
  • - The main ingredient is bread and you have to choose it very well.
    The best choice is Tuscan bread without salt but it's very difficult to find it outside Italy. Prefer country-style loaf, at least a day old. Don't go and buy a loaf to use straight away.
  • - My husband and I usually use the doses you see according to our taste. We like tomatoes very much and so we eat a lot of them in summer, especially in recipes like this one. Obviously you can modify these doses increasing the amount of onions or tomatoes or reducing them.
  • - Panzanella recipe I'm showing you is a classical version. If you like you can add other ingredients such as cucumbers, celery, capers, hard-boiled eggs, grilled bell peppers, anchovies in oil ...

Menu planning

  • - Serve panzanella as one-plate meal in your family menu.
  • - You can bring it with you on a picnic or as lunch at the seaside. It's a typical Tuscan salad to eat cold and so ideal in these occasions.
  • - Serve panzanella to start a typical Italian menu in summer. You'll astonish your guests, certainly!
    Panzanella wull be your starter accompanied by assorted salami. These doses are enough for more people.
    Don't prepare pasta or rice dishes. Carbs are already in bread of panzanella.
    Think of a traditional fish or meat main dish.
    Close with a dessert: peach-and-melon salad could be a good solution. Link to the recipe below.

Useful links for this recipe

Healthy eating

  • - Typically in Italy we consider poor kitchen as a collection of low-calorie recipes. It is not always so.
    Just look at panzanella calories.
    Bread is its main ingredient and it is always abundant.
    Then there's another problem: the amount of oil that must be used. Bread absorbs iy much.
    This explains why if you eat it for lunch it must be your one-plate meal.


What's the right wine for " Panzanella or marinated bread salad "?

Most people suggest to match panzanella with white wines such as Bianco di Pitigliano (wine of Tuscany) or Ortrugo (wine of Emilia). We suggest to use little vinegar if you like drinking wine.

A little history

Tuscan panzanella is a typical summer salad in Italy.
Bread is the main ingredient and Tuscan people use bread very much in all their recipes. They are used to cut their country-style loaf into thin slices, fry them in olive oil and accompany a lot of appetizers. Besides they use these fried slices to serve stewed wild boar or other meat and then ... what about their fantastic bruschetta?
At last we must remember all the Tuscan soups are served with toasted bread ...
Bread has always been important for all social classes. The upper and middle class have ever had no problem with making bread but peasants have always had great difficulty with salt. Once salt was very expensive and so poor people did their best to make bread without salt. We have just told you how no-salt bread was born in Tuscany. Women got better and better to put apart and preserve a piece of raw dough every week for making the bread the following week.
Panzanella was born in Florence many centuries ago. At the beginning there were no tomatoes. They were added only some centuries after. It was a poor recipe made with poor ingredients but upper classe liked it very much ;)
In Tuscany panzanella is also called: ficattola, panmollo, panmolle.
In Italy you can find other panzanella recipes outside Tuscany but panzanella is unique: remember! The ingredients can be the same but it's different the bread and the way to treat it.

If you like this recipe you could be interested in other dishes from Tuscany. Besides this region has its own wines, well known all over the world and a lot of beautiful cities to visit. My husband and I have created a page dedicated to Tuscany where you'll be able to find a lot of tips, included restaurants where we ate with a great satisfaction!