This Tuscan bread and tomato salad is simple but one of my favourites. Here I’ve added mozzarella and basil oil for a twist on the classic salad.
Panzanella is traditionally made with stale bread, the more rustic the loaf the better, and as luck would have it I discovered a ciabatta that I’d forgotten about that I could use for this recipe. If you either don’t have stale bread lying about, or simply don’t want to use it, then you can use fresh bread drizzled in oil and grill on high for 20 minutes until the bread is crispy but not toasted.
Panzanella Salad with Mozzarella & Basil Oil
A twist on the humble Tuscan Panzanella salad of bread and tomatoes.
- 500 g mixed tomatoes
- 1 loaf stale bread
- 150 g mozarella
- 200 ml basil oil
- 2 tbsp sea salt
Roughly chop your mixed tomatoes, place into a dish and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Pull your bread into chunks, add to a baking tray and drizzle with water and salt. Add to the oven and leave for 10 minutes until the bread is warmed through and slightly softer.
In a large salad bowl layer the bread with the mixed tomatoes. Tear over the mozzarella and dress with the basil oil.
Serve immediately. Panzanella should be eaten on the same day its made.
Luckily I found my ciabatta the morning I went to Borough Market so I was able to pick up my mixed Isle of Wight tomatoes from the tomato stall, heirloom tomatoes work just as well (and I prefer them) but they are much more expensive.
I always add a sprinkle of sea salt to tomatoes as it really draws out the flavour and the juices. It’s so simple yet so effective.
Torn chunks of bread with water and salt sounds unappealing but they add a different texture to the salad. Panzanella would have needed to feed entire families for as little as possible and bread would have been expensive, using stale bread ensured no waste and provided a filling meal.
Normally I’d stop at this stage, add a drizzle of olive oil and a few thinly sliced pieces of red onion and that would be my finished panzanella salad; simple yet full of flavour.
Mozzarella improves everything.
You can add fresh basil to the salad but I like to add it to the dressing instead by using my homemade basil oil.
Just look at all of those gorgeous colours and textures. The perfect summer salad just made for sharing.