Panzanella Salad

panzanella salad

Our panzanella bread and avocado salad is one of my new favorites. Unlike a traditional bread salad, I add arugula and torn basil so it is less heavy. For a lunch or dinner, just add a piece of grilled salmon, steak or chicken and you have a complete meal. I use Wisconsin made Parmesan cheese for a final garnish. We also use a wonderful basil flavored olive oil that we purchase from The Oilerie in Fish Creek. If you aren’t around Door County, they do have an on line shop. Click here to learn about the Oilerie products.


  • 3 cups of 3/4 inch cubes Italian, French or ciabatta bread
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil approximately

For the salad

  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, cleaned and cut on a diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons capers, optional

For the vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
  • substitute red wine vinegar if you
  • don’t have sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 ripe but still slightly firm avocados, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 1 1/2 cup baby organic arugula
  • a small wedge of Parmesan cheese to shred over final salad


To prepare the salad

untoasted breadPlace enough olive oil in a saute pan to just coat the bottom. When hot, add the bread cubes and heat over medium tossing frequently until nicely browned. Add more oil if needed.

Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

julienne tomatoesSlice the tomatoes in half. Remove the seeds with a paring knife then carefully slice the tomatoes into julienne pieces. Place in a bowl.

Add the diced cucumber, diced red onion and chopped green onion. If desired, add the capers. Set aside .

Place the bread cubes in the bowl with the onions, cucumbers and tomatoes.

To make the vinaigrette

adding sherry wine vinegarPut the sherry wine vinegar in a mixing bowl. Add the chopped cloves and Dijon mustard.

Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If too tart, add more olive oil. If not tart enough, add a little more sherry wine vinegar.

Drizzle enough vinaigrette on the bread vegetable mix to just coat. Extra vinaigrette can be kept in the refrigerate for up to one week.

avocado choppedChop the avocado right before serving. Add to the salad mix.

Add the arugula to the salad. Add the roughly torn basil. Put some freshly shredded Parmesan cheese on the salad and carefully toss.

panzanella salad finishedDivide the salad on your serving plates or serve in a large bowl for a buffet. You can have most of the ingredients ready several hours ahead except the avocado and the torn basil. The avocado and basil should not be cut (or torn) until just before serving as they will discolor.



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