Classic Panzanella Salad with Basil & Artichokes

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Fresh basil & artichoke hearts are added to this traditional Italian panzanella salad, consisting of toasted bread & juicy tomatoes! This salad is easy to make & perfect served as a spring or summer side dish, or a light lunch or dinner.

Toasted bread cubes, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese in large oval bowl with spoon in bowl

When it comes to salads, I know that most people immediately think a base of greens with various toppings. Well, the panzanella salad says forget the greens, we’re going straight for the bread and tomatoes!

This classic Tuscan bread salad is popular in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. A traditional panzanella salad is composed of stale Italian bread and ripe tomatoes. It’s tossed in a dressing of olive oil and vinegar. The juice from the tomatoes, combined with the dressing, softens the stale bread and creates a deliciously fun salad!

I don’t know about you, but I’m always down to add a little crispy deliciousness to my salads! This Crispy Eggplant Caprese Salad gets regular requests from friends when I host dinner parties. And this Crispy Goat Cheese Salad is always in the rotation at our house!

The best part about a panzanella salad is that it’s so easy to make! If you don’t already have stale or toasted bread, toast that up first, then simply toss everything together in a bowl.

I added fresh basil, sliced red onion and artichoke hearts to my version of the panzanella salad. All of these fresh ingredients combined with crunchy pieces of bread creates one seriously delicious salad!

Panzanella salad in bowl with toasted bread pieces and halved cherry tomatoes, topped with grated parmesan cheese

How to make Panzanella Salad

Start by making sure you have nice, crusty bread for the base of the salad. If you don’t have stale bread to use, toast a diced up loaf of Italian or French bread.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the cubes of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes to get the pieces of bread nice and toasty.

In a large bowl, toss fresh tomatoes, sliced red onions, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh chopped basil together. Add the toasted bread cubes and toss to coat the bread in the tomato juices and dressing. Allow the bread to soak in the liquids for at least 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Top with grated parmesan cheese, if you would like.

Quick Tip! Artichoke hearts can easily be found canned or jarred at the grocery store. They come marinated or packed in water. Either one can be used for this recipe. Just make sure to drain any liquid from the artichoke hearts before adding them to the salad.

What type of tomatoes to use for Panzanella Salad?

For this recipe, I like to use halved cherry tomatoes. Other varieties of fresh tomatoes will also work. Sliced heirloom tomatoes, roma tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes can all be used in this recipe.

What type of bread to use for Panzanella Salad?

The best bread for a panzanella salad is a loaf of crusty Italian or French bread. A French baguette or sourdough bread can also be used. If you already have a stale loaf at home, this salad is a great way to put it to good use!

I’ve made this recipe gluten free as well using toasted pieces of gluten free whole grain bread. You can also find gluten free french baguettes in the freezer section of most major grocery stores. These baguettes can be baked, then toasted and used in this recipe.

If you’re not gluten free, I would recommend sticking with a traditional Italian or French loaf of bread. But if you’re looking for a delicious way to make a gluten free panzanella salad, this is a great option. My brother has celiac disease, so I originally created this salad with gluten free bread for him and he loved it!

Is Panzanella Salad vegan?

This salad is vegan when made without the optional parmesan topping. Always make sure to check the bread ingredients to make sure that no dairy products were added. Traditional bread is made of yeast, flour, water and salt, and should be suitable for a vegan diet.

Toasted bread cubes in bowl with halved cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese

Looking for more ways to use those juicy summer tomatoes? Try these easy recipes!

  • 29 Minute Roasted Tomato Soup – this soup recipe is delicious year-round and so easy to make!
  • Tomato Basil Bruschetta – this fresh, flavorful bruschetta recipe is the perfect summer appetizer! It’s made in less than 15 minutes & always a hit!
  • Bacon Tomato Avocado Grilled Cheese – the ULTIMATE grilled cheese is loaded with crispy bacon, juicy tomatoes & creamy avocado! And of course, lots of cheese!
  • Tomato Basil Chicken Skewers – these are my favorite skewers to toss on the grill in the summer! They would pair perfectly with this panzanella salad for a complete Italian meal.
Overhead shot of panzanella salad in large oval bowl topped with grated parmesan cheese
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Basil Artichoke Panzanella Salad

Fresh basil & artichoke hearts are added to this traditional Italian panzanella salad consisting of toasted bread & juicy tomatoes!

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 824 kcal
Author Whitney Bond

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf Italian or French bread cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ½ cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Place the cubed bread on a baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, toss the cherry tomatoes, red onions, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, ½ cup olive oil and basil together in a large bowl.
  6. Remove the bread from the oven and add to the vegetable/dressing mixture.
  7. Toss well to combine.
  8. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

Recipe Notes

  • Stale Bread: If you have a loaf of stale bread, dice this into cubes and skip steps 1-3. After tossing the bread with the other salad ingredients, allow to set for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the dressing.
  • Artichoke Hearts: Artichoke hearts can be found in a can or jar at the grocery store. Marinated or non-marinated artichoke hearts can be used for this recipe, just make sure to drain any liquid from the artichoke hearts before adding them to the salad.
  • Tomatoes: Heirloom tomatoes, roma tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes can be sliced and used in place of the halved cherry tomatoes in this recipe.
  • Gluten Free: A loaf of gluten free bread can be used in place of the Italian bread to make this recipe gluten-free.
  • Vegan: When served without the parmesan cheese on top, this recipe is vegan. Always be sure to read the labels on the bread to make sure that no dairy products have been added.