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Panzanella - Peasant Style Tuscan Bread Salad

  • 4 ServingsServings


  • 4 thick slices of 2 day-old crusty peasant-style bread
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes cut into small wedges, or 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 sweet white onion or red onion red onion
  • 1/2 cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or to taste)
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • (* optional) 1 can oil-packed yellow fin tuna and 4 oil-packed anchovies


Cut the onion into thin slices and soak it in a bowl of very cold water with one tablespoon of vinegar for at least 2 hours. Soaking removes the stinging bite from the onions making them deliciously sweet, crunchy and digestible. Peel the cucumber and cut it into thin slices. Cut the tomatoes into small wedges (or halve the cherry tomatoes), discarding any seeds. Set all the vegetables aside.

Remove the crust from the bread slices and sprinkle with some cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, enough to wet them and soften them but not so much that they’ll fall apart completely.

After a couple of minutes squeeze some of the liquid out very gently, then break the bread into pieces with your hands into a large serving bowl. Add the onion, tomatoes, cucumber, and basil. Combine everything together and dress with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

If serving as a one-course meal rather than as an appetizer, you can also add canned tuna and anchovies and/or a boiled egg.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Photo Credit: Fuoco Variabile