Give stale bread new life in a simple, flavorful Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad. Garden-fresh tomatoes really shine in this easy-to-prepare recipe.
Most of the time, my family can’t keep up with the steady stream of food experiments taking shape in my kitchen. Fortunately, disposing of cupcakes, cookies, and brownies — even imperfect ones — is easy to do; I can usually count on neighbors or friends to take excess sweets off our hands.
But when it comes to bread, it’s a totally different story. Even if I have it in abundance, I’m often not willing to share. With cupcakes, I don’t actually want to eat two dozen by myself; somehow, though, when left alone with them, I accidentally do. Unlike dessert, bread usually plays a supporting role, and this makes it super versatile. I WANT to eat all of it!
Even when bread starts to stale (which it tends to do if you’re a hoarder ), I see it as an opportunity: cubed and frozen, it’s great to have on hand for making stuffing, fresh croutons, or bread pudding. I love to stockpile it, and I’m pretty good about slicing it up before it’s too late.
Just the other day — knife in one hand and the remains of a rock-hard rustic loaf in the other — I eyed the sheer mass of garden tomatoes lining my kitchen counter. This time, I decided to skip freezing — this loaf was destined for immediate consumption in the form of Tuscan bread and tomato salad.
Not only does Tuscan bread and tomato salad (or panzanella if you’re feeling fancy and Italian) pack serious flavor, it comes together quickly and easily. After cubing and toasting bread, toss it with the rest of the ingredients — olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella — and you’re done.
Homegrown tomatoes never need much help to shine, and, as usual, they’re the star attraction in this simple salad.
As their juices soak into the bread along with oil and vinegar, the result is spectacular, especially with several generous handfuls of chopped basil and some tender, fresh mozzarella in the mix.
I tossed our salad right before dinner under the mistaken impression the bread would get too soggy if it sat for too long. As dinner progressed, along with multiple helpings of this addictive dish, we realized that the salad tasted better after the bread had a chance to soak up its mingled flavors. It even held up great as leftovers for lunch the next day, so I needn’t have worried.
This simple salad gives me one more reason to hold on to all those extra loaves of bread. Sorry, neighbors.
Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad
Adapted from Sunset Magazine.
Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad
- 7 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
- 10 cups bread cubes from a rustic crusty loaf (about 1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 pounds tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves snipped in ribbons and divided
- 8 ounces fresh ciliegine (small mozzarella balls) halved
- In a large, ovenproof skillet, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the butter, and garlic. Warm over medium heat until the butter melts.
- Add bread cubes to the skillet and toss to combine. In an oven preheated to 350° F, bake until golden, about 15 minutes, tossing several times during baking. Remove from oven and let bread cool in the pan.
- In a large bowl, combine remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix gently to combine. Stir in bread, tomatoes, about 3/4 of the basil, and mozzarella. Season with additional salt if needed.
Anna (Hidden Ponies) says
Oh, I’m the same way with bread…it never goes to waste around here 🙂 This looks so simply delicious!
Thanks, Anna! It is super addictive!
Bread salads are one of my favorites, and you’re so right — they taste better as they sit for a while. I love bread a lot, too, and don’t like to share!
They are so good! Glad to hear I’m not the only hoarder out there!
Chelsea @ A Duck's Oven says
I’ve never actually eaten panzanella, but this recipe looks so delicious! I love the combinations of tomato, cheese, and fresh herbs 🙂 And I don’t blame you- fresh bread is a precious commodity around here, too!
I totally recommend trying it, Chelsea! You’ll be hooked!
Julia @ Sprinkled With Jules says
I can totally relate, I think bread is probably my favorite food! This salad sounds great, it’s kinda like a bruschetta salad! Yum!
It is like bruschetta, Julia, only better, because the tomatoes don’t fall all over the place when you try to eat it! Thanks for stopping by!
Vedika @ Hot Chocolate Hits says
Your photography is absolutely beautiful! This looks so fresh and delicious!
Thanks, Vedika! I recommend making this salad while tomatoes ripened by summer sunshine still linger!
This is a tasty salad.Thanks, Vedika!
Enjoy, Vedika! Thanks for stopping by!