Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Updated Nov. 13, 2023

Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes
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At the height of tomato season, for every perfectly ripe, taut and juicy specimen there’s an overripe, oozing counterpart not far away. The Tuscan bread salad called panzanella is the perfect place to use those sad, soft tomatoes that are still rich in flavor. Traditional panzanella is made with stale, dried bread that’s rehydrated with a dressing of sweet tomato juices, vinegar and plenty of olive oil. This version includes mozzarella for richness and cucumber for crunch. It’s an ideal do-ahead dish; the longer the mixture sits (up to 6 or so hours), the better it tastes. Just be sure to dry your bread out thoroughly in the oven so it won’t turn to mush. For a make-ahead summer party, serve alongside crunchy fried chicken and round out the meal with a luscious coconut cake accented with peaches.

Featured in: Fried Chicken Stars in This Make-Ahead Meal

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Yield:6 servings

  • 4ounces ciabatta or baguette, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 6tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste
  • ¾teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
  • 2pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors
  • 6ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion
  • 2garlic cloves, grated to a paste
  • 2tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste
  • 1tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)
  • Large pinch red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ½cup thinly sliced Persian or Kirby cucumber, about 1 small cucumber
  • ½cup torn basil leaves
  • ¼cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1tablespoon capers, drained

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

289 calories; 21 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 12 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 18 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 10 grams protein; 530 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

    Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (3)
  2. Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, garlic paste, 1 tablespoon vinegar, oregano or thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and the red-pepper flakes if using. Toss to coat and set aside.

    Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (4)
  3. Step


    In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Stir in cucumbers, basil and parsley.

  4. Step


    Add bread cubes, cucumber mixture and capers to the tomatoes and toss well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving. Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar and salt if needed just before serving.

    Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (5)



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Cooking Notes

Joel Nydahl

Is there a way to print the notes along with the recipes? Some are very helpful and it would be great to have them attached.


A very good dish to use up late summer garden bounty. But simplify the directions by chopping all the tomatoes first, tossing with all the salt to bring out their juices, and then add the other ingredients on top. Add the vinaigrette. Mix and let sit.

Oil-cured olives and baby arugula were nice additions to my try.


I know this is probably sacrilege, but I prefer to un-panzanellize and have warm crusty bread on the side. That having been said, LOVED this salad. Agree that the capers get lost, but I found adding oil-cured olives, sliced in half, gave the salad an extra kick.


You don't need all that olive oil either. 1TBSP with the bread cubes will suffice. 2 TBSP for the dressing is more than enough. Shaves off 6.5 grams fat and 60 calories per serving.


I first made Ina’s take on this salade, (cucs, tomato, Bell peppers, red onion, bread croutons) and have learned that variations on the theme (tuna, capers, mozzarella, garbanzo beans, olives, arugula), make a delicious, light dinner. I have eaten many versions in Italy. Whatever great ingredients are in season/to your taste should be your guide. It’s a composed salad, not rocket science. Lighten up Times readers and enjoy the late summer bounty and Melissa Clark’s brilliance.

Ruth K Meyer

Learned Panzanella in Florence in 1966. Okay cucumbers, okay with thyme, but capers? No way. Mozzarella maybe, but this was supposed to be peasant food, folks. It doesn't need to be so dressed up. Serve with prosciutto and melon.


Too many steps. I start by combining all the "dressing" ingredients from steps 2 &3. Then I pour the dressing over the remaining ingredients of bread, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and basil. Let is rest for 30 minutes and within 5 minutes of serving it is gone. I serve it will grilled chicken and my teenage kids can't get enough.


The full amount of olive oil results in wonderfully toasted croutons that stand up better to the moisture of the dressing and vegetables - I wouldn't skimp on it. And the oil in the dressing balances the acidity of other ingredients and amplifies the flavor and mouthfeel.

Is there a reason for not just adding each ingredient to one big bowl as its chopped?

Terrence McCarthy

I love this recipe. My one suggestion is to presoak the sliced red onion in several changes of water to sweeten them. I think the sweetness adds balance.


I've made a version that included anchovvy paste, and a variety of bell peppers (red, yellow, and green) that packed a tremendous flavor wallop....


I'd rather put some more in. Olive oil is very healthy. You loose some of the italian taste by saving it.

Charles Michener

If you chop the ripe tomatoes into too small a dice - I recommend nothing smaller than 1" - and you salt them way ahead of time, you will have tomato mush before long. Mix tomatoes, capers, cucumbers ahead of time (no more than two hours, in my opinion), refrigerate, and DON'T add salt until maybe 10 minutes before serving - at room temperature. The capers will have added enough salt beforehand.


A very good dish to use up late summer garden bounty. But simplify the directions by chopping all the tomatoes first, tossing with all the salt to bring out their juices, and then add the other ingredients on top. Add the vinaigrette. Mix and let sit.

Oil-cured olives and baby arugula were nice additions to my try.


This is very good in the height of summer. Used heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market. I cut the garlic back to one clove and it was plenty. No need for oregano or thyme. The vinaigrette was very good. Added chunks of good quality tuna packed in olive oil for protein (a trattoria close to us served panzanella this way to great effect). De-lish!


Delicious. Add pine nuts (toasted or not) for yet
another texture.


Best salad ever

Pam G

Made this without the mozz for a vegetarian version and added more basil. Tripled dressing so we'd have it on hand as a basic vinaigrette.

cheese substitute

Added ricotta salata instead of mozzarella and it was fabulous

Mary Beth Lyles

This salad is a home run. Ignore calls to cut the olive oil...delicious as written. I do think olives could be a fun addition. With the mozzarella....or a little extra it can easily be a vegetarian main course. Stale bread is essential...


I used to make panzanella all the time in the 90’s and I guess it dropped off my radar until now. So glad I found this recipe as it was so delicious we could not stop picking at it. I followed the recipe as is except I tore the bread into rough pieces for more crusty edges. This will be back on my rotation for sure


Wow, this is delicious. Used tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs from my garden. My tomatoes are very juicy, so only soaked the bread cubes for about 15 minutes, and they were perfect, not hard nor soggy. Four hours seems like you’d just have gross soggy bread cubes.


Made this recipe with home grown tomatoes and home baked sourdough. It’s fabulous!


It’s incredibly delicious! I only had challah (toasted cubes). I only had smoked mozzarella, but it worked very well. Beautiful and delicious.


I made it barebones and vegan. No cuke, no cheese, no onion, crumbs from a Tartine recipe homemade sourdough boule, and magnifient home grown heritage tomatoes. Very flexible recipe. Wonderful!


Great way to use all the summer tomatoes! Very good. Soaked onions in water.


Another perfect recipe from M.C.


Delicious - but I don't understand adding things at different times. I pretty much added everything but the dressing to a big bowl and then tossed together. Also, I think garlic should go IN the dressing rather than in the bowl, just got a bite of raw garlic at some point. But an excellent summer salad!


The summer herbs were fantastic. Such a quick way to use up the over abundance of summer tomatoes. Lots of rave reviews from my partner. I keep the croutons separate and served the salad over the croutons while plating. The crunch was great and balanced the pork chops we served them with


The idea of panzanella is to have the bread soak up the tomato juices. If you add croutons at the end, that doesn't happen.


This was great! I’ve had panzanella that the bread was soggy and didn’t enjoy it. But this turned out perfect after standing for 2-3 hours. I added artichoke hearts which really didn’t add anything, will leave out next time. And I used olives instead of capers so they wouldn’t get lost. Nice with fried chicken, a rare summer guilty pleasure, and a good rose’. What a great way to use ripe garden tomatoes!

Aileen Brown

This was absolutely delicious. We added some roasted chickpeas for some crunch and protein. I also highly recommend adding the olives for some salty goodness.

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Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Recipe (2024)


What are the main ingredients in panzanella? ›

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

What does panzanella mean in english? ›

Meaning of panzanella in English

an Italian salad made with stale (= not fresh) bread in oil and tomatoes, and often other vegetables: Stale bread can be used in panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad.

What do you serve with panzanella? ›

It's also a great starter to a fun Italian menu with anything including sundried tomato pasta, eggplant parmesan, chicken pesto, or Fish of your choice. Panzanella can also be the perfect summer salad for your next BBQ with things like chicken kabobs, lamb burgers, or grilled shrimp.

What salad is made from mozzarella tomato and basil? ›

Caprese salad is made with just three basic ingredients—tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps add a dash of balsamic vinegar over the top to bring all the flavors together.

What country is panzanella from? ›

Panzanella originated in the central Italian countryside, where farmers combined surplus vegetables with old bread to cut down on waste. They soaked the bread in cold water to give it a chewy texture, then tossed it with vinegar, herbs, and onions for a wonderfully tangy bite.

What part of Italy is panzanella from? ›

Panzanella comes from the regions of central Italy: Toscana, Lazio, Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo, but the Tuscan one is perhaps the most famous. At its most basic, it is a mix of old, dry bread, soaked, squeezed and crumbled, tomatoes, red onions and basil, dressed with oil and vinegar and eaten slightly chilled.

What does panzanella taste like? ›

Earthy beets, vibrant orange, and fresh herbs like dill, parsley, tarragon, and mint add depth to the entire dish. Food and Wine's roundup of eighteen amazing Italian salads including a panzanella recipe is a great place to start. The options are endless and will leave your mouth watering.

Why is it called Israeli salad? ›

It was adopted by Jewish immigrants to the Levant in the late 19th century, who found the locally grown Kirby cucumbers and tomatoes in popular local salad. It was popularized in the kibbutzim, where the Jewish farmers had local fresh produce at hand. The name Israeli Salad is used mainly outside of Israel.

Why is it called panzanella? ›

The word Panzanella is thought to be a combination of two words: Pane, which is the Italian word for bread, and Zanella, the word for a soup tureen.

What are the best tomatoes for salads? ›

Cherry tomatoes are small, round tomatoes that are perfect for snacking and salads. As their namesake suggests, they are about the same size and shape as a cherry. Most cherry tomatoes are red, but they do come in other colors like yellow and orange.

What is the bread you eat with pasta? ›

The type of bread served with antipasti can vary depending on the region, but some popular options include crusty white bread, focaccia, or ciabatta. Additionally, bread can be used to mop up any remaining sauce from the pasta dish.

When was panzanella invented? ›

It is believed that panzanella was invented out of necessity, as a means to utilize unwanted ingredients, such as stale bread. The salad was first described in the 1500s, in a poem by a famous artist and poet named Bronzino. The name of the dish comes from two words: pane, meaning bread, and zanella, meaning soup bowl.

What is in herb mozzarella cheese? ›

Bold Italian Herb Mozzarella Cheese

Creamy whole milk mozzarella is generously coated with an aromatic blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, bell pepper and garlic for a sensory expedition to the Italian countryside.

What basil is best for caprese? ›

Genovese Basil

Also called sweet basil or sweet Genovese, this is the most common variety and what you'll find in those plastic packages at the supermarket. The oval-shaped leaves are about 2-3 inches long and have a strong aroma and peppery flavor. This is the classic choice for pesto, Caprese salad, and pizza.

What does caprese mean in Italian? ›

As it's called in Italian, Insalata caprese, Caprese salad literally means “Salad of Capri.” Although nobody knows whether or not the salad was actually first made on the Italian island, it likely originated from a dish made in Capri from a different type of cheese, cacio, served with tomatoes.

What is crystal bread made of? ›

Crystal-clear bread: how to make it

It's described as perfectly crispy and hollow and it's made using water, potato starch and kuzu (a starch and jelling agent made from the Kuzu root).

What is Greek bread made from? ›

Greek bread typically consists of ingredients such as flour, water, salt, yeast and olive oil. It can be prepared in a variety of ways including making it into flatbreads, or baking it in the oven to create loaves. Greek bread is often used for dipping sauces and spreads like tzatziki.


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