Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Recipe

If you're fortunate enough to have access to locally grown heirloom tomatoes, you're probably always on the lookout for delicious, easy recipes that can highlight the unique flavor of your beautiful, colorful tomatoes. Unlike the uniformly red, meticulously engineered tomatoes you find in the grocery store, heirloom tomatoes are carefully cultivated by farmers. Farmers save the seeds from the plants that produce the best fruit at the end of each season to plant in the following one (via Bon Appétit). Colors, shapes, and textures of heirloom tomatoes can vary widely, with each species delivering its own distinct flavor.

A perfect showcase for heirloom tomatoes is panzanella, a mouthwatering salad comprising of stale bread and tomatoes. Recipe developer Susan Olayinka's heirloom tomato panzanella highlights the flavor of the tomatoes with fresh herbs, and toasts up cubes of chewy ciabatta to soak up all the delicious juices. Pair it with a tender cut of grilled or oven roasted meat, or enjoy it as a light lunch all on its own. "This salad is wonderful," Olayinka says. "It makes salads less boring when [it has] lots of layers to it."

Gather the ingredients for heirloom tomato panzanella

Heirloom tomatoes are obviously the stars of this panzanella. Since the bulk of the flavor and the color in this recipe comes from the tomatoes, make sure you're starting with perfectly ripe juicy tomatoes. In addition to the tomatoes, you'll also need a baby cucumber, a shallot, fresh dill, fresh basil, a loaf of ciabatta, extra-virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar.

If you don't have a loaf of ciabatta handy, Olayinka says, "I also did a recipe with sourdough bread which worked well." If you're short on vinegar, try substituting fresh lemon or lime juice. And if dill and basil aren't your preference, Olayinka says you can swap them out with any fresh herbs you like.

Prep your produce

In order to get a great balance of flavors and textures in every bite, you'll want to cut your tomatoes and bread into similarly bite-sized pieces. Go for a relatively large dice on your tomatoes, cutting them into approximately 1-inch pieces. You can go a little smaller on the cucumber and shallot, so that they evenly distribute throughout the salad. Then, finely chop your dill and basil, or whatever other fresh herbs you're using.

Toast the bread

Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the bread into approximately 1-inch cubes, and spread the cubes out onto a baking sheet. Using the broil setting in your oven, broil the cubes for about a minute, until they are lightly toasted. Or if you have a toaster oven, you can use that to lightly toast the bread. The goal is to dry it out and give it some crunch, so it will hold up once soaked with the tomato juices and dressing.

Combine the salad ingredients

Once your bread is nice and toasty, your salad is ready to assemble. Mix all the chopped produce together in a large bowl. Whisk together the vinegar and olive oil into a separate small bowl, then drizzle it over the salad, and give it a stir until everything is well combined. Finally, add in the toasted bread cubes, and give everything another good toss.

If you're making this panzanella ahead of time, wait to combine the bread, dressing, and produce until just before you're ready to serve it. That way, the textures won't break down while the salad is waiting to go on the table.

Serve immediately

Panzanella is best served immediately, since while the toasted bread will retain its crunch for a little while after meeting up with the juicy tomatoes and tangy dressing, that won't be true for long. So only make as much as you can eat in one sitting, and dish it up as soon as it's mixed together. "Leftovers won't keep, unfortunately," Olayinka notes, "because the bread goes soggy." Fortunately, this panzanella is so quick and easy to whip up, that it's no problem to mix up a new batch every time the craving strikes.

This is such a perfect dish to serve for a light lunch or along with brunch. Not only is it completely delicious, but it will add so much color to your table. Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Recipe
5 from 37 ratings
This heirloom tomato panzanella recipe highlights the flavor of the tomatoes with fresh herbs, and toasts up cubes of ciabatta to soak up the delicious juices.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Panzanella in bowl
Total time: 11 minutes
  • 4 heirloom tomatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 baby cucumber, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 shallot, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 (5-inch) loaf of ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  1. Dice the heirloom tomatoes, baby cucumber, and shallot into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Finely chop the dill and basil.
  3. Slice the ciabatta bread into 1-inch cubes.
  4. Broil the bread for 1 minute per side so that it's toasted.
  5. Place into a serving dish the diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced shallot, chopped dill, and chopped basil, and mix together.
  6. Place the extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in a small mixing bowl, and mix together.
  7. Pour the dressing over the salad, and mix in the croutons.
  8. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Calories per Serving 420
Total Fat 13.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 64.4 g
Dietary Fiber 5.7 g
Total Sugars 7.3 g
Sodium 666.6 mg
Protein 11.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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