We are still at the beach and I’ve noticed that every day we have a lot of bread left over.  I hate throwing it away, and so I decided to make a very easy, ‘poor man’s dish’ that I discovered years ago when I started living in Tuscany.  Panzanella is basically a summer salad.  My kids love it and begged me to make it more than once over the last week.  It requires few ingredients, and those it does require are items that always seem to be present in the house, especially during summer.  The best bread to use though to make this recipe truly authentic is a rustic and crusty Italian loaf, best if it’s a little stale too!  Make sure your tomatoes are lovely, red, ripe and full of flavour.

Eat it on it’s own, or as a perfect side dish during summer BBQ’s.


  • 5 thick slices of Tuscan bread
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes or 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • 8 – 10 large basil leaves (torn into pieces by hand)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 250ml water
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Place the chopped onion in a bowl and add water with 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar. (Ideally this should be left for a couple of hours, but I’m rarely that organised).
  2. Chop tomatoes and add them to a bowl with a generous splash of olive oil and salt to taste. Leave this at least 30min to allow the tomato juices to be released.
  3. Slice bread into squares, and place in large bowl. (Many recipes say to remove the crusts, but I like to leave them on, and have some ‘bite’ to the salad.)
  4. Using a tablespoon, sprinkle the water and vinegar from the onions over the bread until bread is wet. All liquid should be absorbed by the bread.  (The bread should be wet, but not sitting in liquid.)
  5. Remove onions from water/vinegar mixture and add to bread. Add tomatoes, cucumber, basil and stir through well.
  6. Add extra olive oil as desired, and salt and black pepper to taste.


* Although not traditional Panzanella, you could add cannelini beans and tuna if you want to make it more interesting.