A twist on a classic Italian dish, this warm sourdough panzanella combines leftover focaccia with juicy, roasted tomatoes to create a unique bread salad that’s quick, easy, and ready in 30 minutes. Serve as a side dish to accompany a main course or as an appetizer with fresh burrata (my personal favorite).
The key to panzanella is finding the right balance of textures and flavors. Mix by hand, and taste as you go adding more vinegar, olive oil, and salt as needed. The texture of the bread should be slightly soaked (not soggy) or crunchy like croutons.
- Regular balsamic vinegar can replace the white balsamic, however the color of the salad will be notably darker- not my first choice. Try red wine vinegar with a splash of balsamic for sweetness.
- Focaccia is my preferred bread because it’s light and airy. Use whatever crusty artisan bread your have available. Additional vinegar and oil might be needed depending on how much liquid the bread absorbs.
- I use 3-4 cups of cubed bread to 1 pint of cherry tomatoes. Keep this ratio in mind when increasing the serving size.
1x pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 cups sourdough focaccia, cut into small pieces, no larger than 1-inch
2–3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
large handful of fresh basil, torn into pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
handful of black olives
fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks
Preheat the oven to 350.
Adjust the racks to fit the center and lower third; the tomatoes and bread will bake at the same time.
Add the cherry tomatoes to a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the lower third of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes just begin to burst. They should be soft, but not collapsed.
Meanwhile, cut the focaccia into 1-inch cubes. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Bake on the center rack until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, add them with their juices to a large bowl. Add the bread, onions, 2 tbsp. of the white balsamic vinegar and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Toss the salad with your hands, gently breaking up the tomatoes to release some of their juices (you still want their shape mostly intact). Taste the salad. Add more vinegar, olive oil and salt if needed. Don’t be shy. Add a good amount of basil and mix again.
Let the salad sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Keywords: sourdough bread, panzanella, bread salad, cherry tomatoes, artisan bread, Tuscan, Italian