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Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

Bowl of vegan heirloom tomato panzanella salad with salad tongs in itBowl of vegan heirloom tomato panzanella salad with salad tongs in it

Bowl of vegan heirloom tomato panzanella salad with salad tongs in itBowl of vegan heirloom tomato panzanella salad with salad tongs in it
Platter of vegan heirloom tomato panzanella saladPlatter of vegan heirloom tomato panzanella salad

This recipe was originally inspired by caprese salad! We wanted the classic tomato, basil, cheese trio married together with balsamic vinegar. However, we also wanted croutons in the mix (because bread!), so we ended up with an EPIC summer panzanella! The results were pretty stellar and we kept going back for seconds (and thirds). Even tomato haters are likely to fall for the classic flavors in this dish! Plus, just 10 ingredients and 30 minutes required. Let’s do this! 

Olive oil, cashew ricotta, balsamic vinegar, tomato, basil, microgreens, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, garlic, and tomato juiceOlive oil, cashew ricotta, balsamic vinegar, tomato, basil, microgreens, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, garlic, and tomato juice

What is Panzanella?

Panzanella is a bread salad that’s believed to have originated in Tuscany, Italy. And it may have been invented by peasants as a way to use up stale bread.

The earliest written recipes date back to the 14th and 16th centuries. And while these early versions were heavier on the onions, tomatoes became a more central ingredient by the 1900s.

This version strays a bit from the traditional and draws inspiration from another Italian favorite: caprese salad! You can find a more traditional recipe for panzanella here.

How to Make Tomato Panzanella Salad

You can’t have panzanella without the bread! Well, you can (nobody’s stopping you), but you really must try it, friends. We’re in the bread on salad fan club and want you to join. It’s a great way to use up day-old bread and helps make this salad totally entrée worthy.

Drizzling olive oil over pieces of bread on a baking sheetDrizzling olive oil over pieces of bread on a baking sheet

Chunks of torn bread are tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and baked into golden brown croutons. While they’re baking, tomatoes marinate in salt to release some of their juices and infuse with flavor.

Sprinkling salt over chopped heirloom tomatoesSprinkling salt over chopped heirloom tomatoes

Some of the reserved tomato juice goes in the dressing, along with balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper for caprese salad vibes.

Bowl of dressing made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato juice, salt, and minced garlicBowl of dressing made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato juice, salt, and minced garlic

Then the tomatoes are mixed with the dressing, sliced fresh basil leaves, and microgreens for an explosion of summer flavors.

Tossing fresh tomatoes and basil with dressingTossing fresh tomatoes and basil with dressing

And lastly, it’s topped with (optional but super delicious) vegan cashew ricotta (or another nut cheese like almond or macadamia).

Platter of tomato panzanella salad with basil, microgreens, and cashew ricottaPlatter of tomato panzanella salad with basil, microgreens, and cashew ricotta

We hope you LOVE this panzanella salad! It’s:

Summery
Fresh
Balsamic-infused
Quick & easy
Shareable
& SO delicious!

It’s the perfect lighter entrée or side salad for summer and beyond! Pair it with your grilling favorites or with other Italian-inspired recipes. It would be especially nice with our Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad, Creamy Vegan White Pasta with Summer Vegetables, Gluten-Free Vegan Sausage Pizza, or Easy Vegan Zucchini Boats.

More Summer Salad Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Fork in a bowl of heirloom tomato caprese panzanella saladFork in a bowl of heirloom tomato caprese panzanella salad

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 4 (Servings)

Course Entree, Salad, Side

Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Italian-Inspired, Vegan

Freezer Friendly No

Does it keep? Best when fresh

CROUTONS

  • 2 cups day old sturdy bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces (such as sourdough // if gluten-free, use gluten-free bread or omit)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 healthy pinch each sea salt and pepper

SALAD

  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup arugula microgreens (or other microgreens)
  • 1/2 cup cashew ricotta or almond ricotta or macadamia nut cheese (optional)

VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp tomato juice (reserved from straining the tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • CROUTONS: Preheat the oven to 400 F (204 C) and set out a bare baking sheet.

  • On the baking sheet, toss the bread pieces with 2 tsp olive oil (adjust amount if altering number of servings), garlic powder, and salt and pepper to coat. Roast for 10-15 minutes, until golden, then remove from the oven and let cool.

  • TOMATOES: Place the tomatoes in the basket of a salad spinner or in a large fine mesh strainer set over a mixing bowl. Add 1 tsp salt (adjust amount if altering number of servings) and toss to coat the tomatoes in the salt. Let the tomatoes drain for 10 minutes and save the liquid.

  • VINAIGRETTE: To a small bowl, add minced or pressed garlic, pinch of salt, reserved tomato juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed, adding a pinch of salt for balance, more garlic for bite, or more olive oil to mellow the flavors. Any leftover tomato juice can be reserved for adding to tomato soup or Bloody Marys (there shouldn’t be much).

  • SALAD: Add the strained tomatoes, chopped basil, and vinaigrette to a large serving bowl and toss to combine. When ready to serve, add croutons, microgreens, and vegan ricotta (optional) and toss lightly to incorporate.

  • Best enjoyed right away to maintain the croutons’ crunch, but will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator stored separately. Not freezer friendly.

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with sourdough bread and without optional vegan ricotta.

Serving: 4 servings Calories: 227 Carbohydrates: 23.4 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 13.6 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.7 g Monounsaturated Fat: 9.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 796 mg Potassium: 532 mg Fiber: 3.1 g Sugar: 7.6 g Vitamin A: 1855 IU Vitamin C: 32.4 mg Calcium: 57.5 mg Iron: 1.9 mg

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