Spiced Up Panzanella Salad with Tangy Vinaigrette
Spring is here and there’s nothing like a delish and fresh salad for any meal! This recipe is the perfect healthy salad with a ton of flavor and fresh ingredients in every bite. Loaded with a mix of veggies, creamy mozzarella, sourdough bread, and a tangy vinaigrette, you’ll be going back for seconds with this fabulous spiced up panzanella salad.
Inspiration and thoughts
If you’re looking for the perfect spring salad that’s fresh and tasty but also filling and flavorful, this is it. I love a good salad for any meal in the spring and summer and especially if it’s a panzanella salad. You definitely can’t go wrong with a salad that has deliciously soaked but toasty bread pieces in it…! A basic panzanella salad is just that – a fresh mix of tomatoes and veggies with bread chunks that are soaked up with an olive oil and vinegar based dressing, or vinaigrette.
This salad was truly inspired by my love of bread in anything and spiced up salads. I do love salads, but if I had to live on bread and olive oil with no consequence I’d be happy, I must admit! I also love an olive oil and vinegar based dressing on any salad, and panzanella is especially perfect for it. The toasted bread chunks are nice and soaked in that delicious dressing while still being crunchy enough from the oven to have a nice bite and a perfect texture.
I also love this salad because it uses fresh and tasty ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, mozzarella, and lots of basil. It’s also great as an entree, side dish, appetizer, and wonderful for leftovers too.
How it’s made, notes
This is a super easy salad with only a few steps. You start with roasting the sourdough bread pieces and while those are in the oven you can chop the veggies, make the vinaigrette, and then put it all together. So easy and quick, and so healthy and delicious.
A few notes on this recipe. There are several substitutions, and while I love the ingredients I use here as they are, feel free to mix it up a bit with what you have on hand if it’s easier or to your preference. The first ingredient you can substitute is the sourdough bread. Honestly any bread will still be good, but I do love sourdough the best! A french loaf or even pita bread would be fine too. The middle eastern version of a salad with bread in it is called fattoush and is made with toasted pita bread, and I absolutely love it.
I also love mozzarella cheese and I always use it for this recipe, but you can use burrata instead if you prefer. Mozzarella is a bit on the less expensive side compared to burrata too, so that will save a bit for you if you’re looking to be extra budget savvy.
You can also use Roma tomatoes instead of cherry and English cucumbers instead of Persian, but cherry and Persian are musts for me! I love the ease of chopping up the cherry tomatoes and their mild sweetness, and I always have them around my apartment as snacking tomatoes too. And there’s nothing like a fabulous crunchy Persian cucumber – the skin is thinner and less bitter and in my opinion they taste much better. I also love to snack on them in general and always have them around. Fun little story of how deep my love is for cucumbers and bread: my sister, myself, and my cousin used to roll up cucumbers in pita bread like a burrito and eat them, calling them “cuc-y crunchies.” Interesting combo, but they were yummy!
You can also use red onion instead of shallots and this panzanella will still taste great. I love to use shallots in place of red onion in any recipe where they will not be cooked, just because they’re a bit more mild in flavor and have less of an onion-y bite to them.
Lastly, a note on the vinaigrette. After you’ve added all of the ingredients to a large bowl for the salad, make sure to mix in the dressing and let it sit for 2-3 minutes before enjoying. These few minutes ensure that the bread will soak up all of that tangy goodness and will be nice and coated in that vinaigrette. It is just enough time to add the dressing while still keeping the bread a bit crunchy after toasting. It is so good. I hope you try this!
Spiced Up Panzanella Salad with Tangy Vinaigrette
- 4 cups sourdough bread cut or ripped into bite sized pieces
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 cup mozzarella roughly chopped or pulled apart into small bite-sized chunks
- 1/3 cup capers
- 4 Persian cucumbers thinly sliced into circles
- 1/4 cup shallot finely chopped
- 1/2 cup basil leaves + extra for garnish sliced into long thin strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1-2 large cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Roast the sourdough bread
- Preheat the oven to 375 F and prepare one baking sheet. Add the bread chunks to the pan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt onto the bread. Mix together, making sure the chunks are spread out and evenly coated in olive oil. Toast for 15 minutes.
Chop the veggies and make the vinaigrette
- In the meantime, chop up the rest of the ingredients and set aside. Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small container with a lid and shake it up until well mixed. Set aside.
Put it all together and serve
- Put the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, mozzarella, and shallots into a large bowl then add the capers and bread chunks on top. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and mix together until everything is well coated. Let this sit for 2-3 minutes so the bread can soak up all of that delicious dressing. Add the basil to the salad and mix together.
- To serve, pour the salad generously into bowls. Top with more fresh basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Enjoy!