Grilled Italian Sourdough Panzanella

May 10, 2017
Grilled Italian Sourdough Panzanella - Cubes of grilled sourdough, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, & shallots. Its vinaigrette of sweet tomato juices & vinegar

It's inevitable; you're at a weekend birthday party

Grilled Italian Sourdough Panzanella - Cubes of grilled sourdough, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, & shallots. Its vinaigrette of sweet tomato juices & vinegar

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You run into a friend of a friend.  You know each other, but you don't know know each other.  So you fumble into stilted small talk until someone politely excuses themselves to see what's cooking on the stovetop or refill a drink

It’s enough to make you want to avoid the next dinner party altogether (if not for the salsa, or the cheese, but mostly the salsa)

So you regroup and remind yourself to ask better questions.  Instead of “How are you?” ask, “What's something in your life that makes you the happiest?”

Bonus points:  the answers will be far more interesting(!)

— — —

The problem is eventually the question will come back around, and this conversationalist may prove to be a formidable foe.  “What are some things you've been thinking about lately?”

A sparkling glass of rosé on a friend's terrace is a thing of great beauty.  Especially on a spring evening

Do not order the jeans online.  The won't fit, and jeans are not on your list of things you need

You can't wait to spend Mother's Day with your son and his family.  Certainly, there will mud between your toes, miso soup on the stovetop, and (hopefully) the first swigs of summer root beer

When you feel hungry, but nothing sounds good; you’re actually just thirsty.  Drink some water.  Good grief

Grilled Italian Sourdough Panzanella - Cubes of grilled sourdough, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, & shallots. Its vinaigrette of sweet tomato juices & vinegar

The problem is eventually, the question will come back around, and this conversationalist may prove to be a formidable foe. “What are some things you've been thinking about lately?”

A sparkling glass of rosé on a friend's terrace is a thing of great beauty.  Especially on a spring evening

Do not order the jeans online.  The won't fit, and jeans are not on the list of things you need

You can't wait to spend Mother's Day with your son and his family.  Certainly, there will mud between your toes, miso soup on the stovetop, and (hopefully) the first swigs of summer root beer

When you feel hungry, but nothing sounds good, you’re actually just thirsty.  Drink some water.  Good grief

Ask for help.  Always be willing to ask for help

Your dog will eat your shoe.  And then your replacement shoe.  And the replacement for the replacement.  And why only your shoes, not your husband's? (The world may never know)

Don’t be afraid to cook for others. It'll wreak havoc on your dish pile, but it’s truly an honor when someone asks if you'll make their husband's birthday cake  (Bring a small container of gelato in case someone doesn't like your chocolate cake, but never fear, they'll love your chocolate cake)

A swig of ice-cold kombucha is always a good decision

Backup your website.  One day the freebie piece of software you signed up for three years ago and forgot about?  It will leave you weeping with joy.  (Just when you thought all was lost, a lone email saying, “Hey, please update your password so we can connect to your database”  What?!  Upon further checking, lo and behold, daily backups for the past three years!)

 Be kind to your family

How you miss someone snoring on your pillow

Keep going with your school work.  It feels like a grind, yes, but you'll be proud of yourself when you're finished

You don't need the linen tee

You don't need the dress

You don't need the shiny red casserole dish

You certainly don't need the cooking magazine

You don't need the new flip-flop

(You might need the new flip-flop)

Dance with the toddler.  Take him to the park and on lots of picnics.  Let him be silly.  Have some pink ice cream with sprinkles on top.  One day you'll miss him like crazy


Grilled Italian Sourdough Panzanella - Cubes of grilled sourdough, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, & shallots. Its vinaigrette of sweet tomato juices & vinegar

Over the past couple of weeks, spring has officially arrived in Iowa.  We've had clear blue skies and lots of seventy degree days. Farmers Markets are springing back to life, and the first seedlings are beginning to emerge in the garden.  This weekend we'll be filling the car with tomato plants

Around the house, we've been tidying up outside, and the grill is officially ready for summer.  Admittedly, I'm such a sucker for something hot off the grill and dinner on the deck.  It's always the best

Originally, Panzanella (bread salad) was a Tuscan salad made with day-old bread, rehydrated with a dressing of sweet tomato juices, olive oil, salt, and vinegar.  To search the internet, you'll find many delicious renditions filled with seasonal veggies, fruit, beans, meat, and additional flavor from pestos and other sauces.

The ‘crouton' being the only ingredient that stands strong in all circumstances

In this Italian version, bread is charred on the grill for added flavor.  It takes all of about 20 minutes to throw together and is great; however you decide to make it.  This recipe is a starting point, but use it as an opportunity to use your fresh produce or appropriate leftovers

Note:  If grilling the bread isn't for you, toasting it in a grill pan or under a low broiler will work great

Feeling ambitious? Making your own sourdough bread is always a worthwhile endeavor



~ Adapted from Fine Cooking – Real Italian 2017

Grilled Italian Sourdough Panzanella


  • 4 ½-inch thick slices (about 8 oz. from the center of a round sourdough loaf)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, sliced into thin rings
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ lb. ripe meaty tomatoes, cut into ½-inch dice (~ 3-½ cups)
  • 1 small English cucumber, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice (~ 1-½ cups)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained and rinsed


  • Heat a gas grill with all burners on medium
  • Brush the bread with ¼ cup of the oil and season it with a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • Grill the bread on both sides, checking frequently, until nicely browned (~ 3 to 4 minutes per side)
  • When the bread is cool enough to handle, cut it into small cubes (~ ½-inch in diameter)
  • In a small bowl, add the shallot and vinegar and soak for 10-15 minutes
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the shallot to a large bowl, reserving the vinegar.
  • Sprinkle the garlic with ¼ tsp. kosher salt and mash it to a paste on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife.
  • Whisk the mashed garlic, the remaining ¼ cup olive oil, another pinch of sea salt, and a grind of black pepper into the reserved vinegar
  • Toss the bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, mint, capers, and vinaigrette in the bowl with the shallot
  • Serve
Serves: 4
Nutrition + Show
Calories 424
Total Fat 16.2g
Saturated Fat 2.4g
Carbohydrates 59.3g
Fiber 5g
Sugars 10g
Protein 12.3g
Print This Recipe

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  • Reply Katie April 24, 2017 at 11:42 am

    5 stars
    Ali, you have a gift for telling a story, of course, we kept reading. Panzanellas are so lovely. Thank you for the story, and the virtual bread salad. I can almost taste it.

  • Reply Sarah Bailey May 10, 2017 at 4:39 am

    I think the answer to the shoe question (at least in our house) is that the OHs shoes just smell way to bad for even the dog.

    I love the sound of the meal as well it’s great to be coming across different ideas.

  • Reply robin rue May 10, 2017 at 5:53 am

    I really don’t enjoy those uncomfortable exchanges with parents I know, but not really at parties and events. I actually have one coming up on Saturday, so maybe I will ask some deeper questions…..we’ll see 😉

  • Reply candy May 10, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Very early in the morning here but wishing I had everything to throw this together for dinner tonight. Just might have to make a run to the store or have hubby stop on his way home.

  • Reply Destany May 10, 2017 at 7:23 am

    This looks absolutely delicious! I could definitely see myself making a big helping – for myself. No one else in my house would eat it. That’s ok. More for me!

  • Reply Amber Myers May 10, 2017 at 7:31 am

    5 stars
    Oo yes please! I would LOVE this so much. Sourdough has always been one of my favorites.

    And haha, I’m always telling myself I don’t need things. “You don’t need that book. You don’t need that chocolate. Put down the fries.”

  • Reply Katie Kinsley May 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Girl, rose all day, please! And I can never order jeans online, unless I’m buying a duplicate pair of one I already own.

  • Reply Val May 10, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I’ve never tried a dish like this. It sounds delicious and the colors are amazing! I am not a fan of small talk, I just struggle with meaningless conversation.

  • Reply Marina Rosie May 10, 2017 at 10:12 am

    5 stars
    Obsessed with this recipe Alison – it sounds and looks absolutely wonderful! I will definitely be making this, so it’s been bookmarked. Loved your intro too! x
    Lots of love,
    Marina Rosie xx

  • Reply Jenn May 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Panzanella – well, I was once served Panzanella with too much bread and not enough veggies as part of a meal that also included pasta. And bread. And cake. (True story) I haven’t thought of trying it since, but yours is so pretty.

  • Reply Misty May 10, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    New to Veggies By Candlelight, but absolutely in LOVE!!! This has to be one of the best websites I’ve discovered in years!

  • Reply Kim May 10, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Lol…I rarely order clothes online. But this past holiday season, I was afraid to go to the malls..but they were having great sales online too, so I bit the bullet and did what I rarely do. No surprise…except for a pair of red pants, I hated the way most of the items looked on me.

  • Reply Becca Talbot May 10, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I’m a Panzanella purist. French bread cubed, then toasted with garlic, tomato, thinly sliced red onion, cucumber, basil and French vinaigrette. A half-hour wait to allow the flavors marry. There’s truly nothing like it. xx

  • Reply madeeha May 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Were there ever more gorgeous photos of food? The colors are so vibrant! I’ve made Ina Garten’s Panzanella before and kicked it up with cubes of jalapeno cornbread. It was divine. ps: I’m noting the point of backing up my website 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca Swenor May 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    5 stars
    This looks divine! I make a version with grilled bread that’s been sliced, rubbed with roasted garlic and sprinkled with olive oil and salt. We mound the salad up and eat with forks. Once the toast starts to soften, we then just shovel it in with our hands. So, so good. xo

  • Reply Chasity May 10, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    This looks like a great appetizer if you’re having a bunch of friends over. It doesn’t look difficult to make, either.

  • Reply Polarbelle May 11, 2017 at 2:15 am

    5 stars
    That looks really great. It’s something my guys would really like. I’m gf so it’s a no go here, but I’m sure I could translate it all to a gluten free recipe!

  • Reply Anosa May 11, 2017 at 3:35 am

    Trust me on this one: add hazelnuts and call it romesco salad.

  • Reply Laura May 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

    I love the sound of this, it looks delicious! I am gluten free but I could switch up some ingredients to make sure I could try it. The kids love anything like this, and it’s in perfect child like pieces!

  • Reply Emme May 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    5 stars
    Just the name grilled Italian sourdough panzanella is enough to make my mouth water! What a perfect looking dish, and I assume it is very tasty too.

  • Reply Chrishelle Ebner May 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    5 stars
    I love your post. They just seem to come straight out of you wandering mind. I would love to try this Panzanella. I have never made anything like it. Sounds delicious.

  • Reply Chelsea Elizabeth May 11, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    This looks so delicious and packed full of flavour. Another to add to my forever growing must try recipe book!

  • Reply Rika May 12, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Just piping up to say, I love this one so much! Makes a bit of a mess, but totally worth it. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve been making Panzanella for years! At our house it’s called “chopped salad with a bunch of croutons,” but Panzanella sounds a lot fancier.

  • Reply Carrie May 12, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Omg! This sounds so amazing I just saved the recipe. I definitely need to make it this summer. I think it would be perfect to eat while sitting outside.

  • Reply Krista May 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Lol. All the little things we don’t pay attention to. This made me giggle a lot and that plate was just beautiful. I would love to try it sometime.

  • Reply Helen May 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Small talk makes me feel really uncomfortable. I love the idea of asking deeper, more meaningful questions! After talking like that I’d get to know the people I know but don’t really know much better.

  • Reply Dunja May 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    “Your dog will eat your shoe. And then your replacement shoe. And the replacement for the replacement. And why only your shoes .. not your husband’s?” Hahah, this really made me laugh!

  • Reply Stephanie Cummings May 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I can’t even find decent jeans in store, let alone online!! . they never fit right. this looks delicious. I love sourdough bread and think i’d really enjoy this

  • Reply April May 12, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    5 stars
    I love the salad! It must be so delicious with all those healthy things you added. Oh and the presentation is tops. As an old cliche goes, “half the meal is the eye appeal.”

  • Reply Melanie May 14, 2017 at 6:50 am

    5 stars
    I tell my children that about the water but I still think they don’t drink enough. The Panzanella looks amazing I’ve wanted to make that for a while. Yours looks so colourful and pretty.

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus May 18, 2017 at 11:48 am

    This reminds me of dinner parties or just gatherings in general. They make me feel awkward and your right they can put you off going to other events but they shouldn’t. Especially when the food is as delicious as this x

  • Reply Sathwika May 25, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Ooooo, how I love panzanella! At our house it’s our go-to meal in the late summer when tomatoes are in season and full of flavor. It always tastes amazing alongside a piece of (slightly) charred steak hot off the grill x

  • Reply Robin June 22, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Whenever I don’t know what to make for a side, I gravitate to this one. Although, nothing does it justice as well as summer tomatoes. The key is to add the bread cubes at EXACTLY the right time so they are somewhat soaked with dressing, but not soggy. I usually try for about twenty to thirty minutes before serving. My husband is a caper junkie and he just loves this salad. So much so that I’ll catch him chasing capers around the bottom of the bowl. It’s hearty enough for a main dish meal as well. Fun pics too.

  • Reply Elena June 24, 2017 at 4:38 am

    5 stars
    I love making your recipes, Ali because I almost always learn something that can be transferred to cooking/baking without recipes. Tonight with this Panzanella, I learned yet another way to make croutons AND I was inspired to use my first batch of homemade pesto as a dressing! 🙂

  • Reply Lilly June 25, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Made this two nights ago — my very first Panzanella ever — and it was absolutely divine. I used heirloom tomatoes on a whim and felt like a queen while we ate dinner. THIS is why I love this blog!

  • Reply Chubskulit Rose July 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Read the recipe with interest and then I had an epiphany. It’s just a tossed salad with croutons and a vinaigrette, so I put together my regular tossed salad ingredients plus bought croutons (gasp!) and my homemade vinaigrette. Delicious. Love your blog and usually follow your recipes to a tee but this one made me smile a little bit extra. xx

  • Reply Bryanna August 2, 2017 at 7:52 am

    You, my dear, are the B-E-S-T!! Long time reader, first-time commenter. This was just the inspiration I needed this afternoon. Gazing at the fridge and hoping for a lightbulb moment wasn’t working! I threw in some leftover roasted asparagus and garlic, used rice wine vinegar and added goat cheese (no reason, but the last bit of the packet winked at me just as I was closing the fridge door). Wonderful site, I just can’t say enough!

  • Reply Dana August 26, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Delish! Saw this on Instagram this morning, and it solved my problem of what to bring to this evening’s neighborhood BBQ. I made it with pumpernickel sourdough croutons and added goat milk feta. So good! I ended up putting the bread on a cookie sheet and tossing with salt and olive oil before baking it at 425 for 15 minutes turning once. It came out perfectly crisp on the outside and nice on the inside.

  • Reply Agnes August 31, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I made this a few days ago with my summer garden veggies and it was so wonderful! It’s nice to have a good salad when the lettuce crop is dwindling.

  • Reply Eloise September 15, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Little late to the party on this one but better late than never. I can’t seem to stop making this salad. Maybe it’s bread toasted with olive oil or maybe I’m just trying to hang onto summer for just a little bit longer. Whatever the reason, it’s wonderful!

  • Reply Karissa September 18, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    You have to try it with cornbread, so good. I make cornbread for the occasion, which is saying a lot! xx

  • Reply T.P Keane September 22, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for this! Our local pizza place has stopped making their “tomato bread salad,” and I’ve never found a Panzanella recipe that equaled it–until now. It’s the perfect use for my huge glut of garden tomatoes!

  • Reply Joanna October 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    5 stars
    I made this for tonight’s dinner along with the Zuni Cafe roast chicken. Wonderful recipe!

  • Reply Fatima October 11, 2017 at 2:26 am

    For some strange reason, I’ve always had an aversion to the idea of Panzanella. Soggy bread salad is all I could think of. And then I decided, for the sake of my boyfriend, to give this a try. You’ve created a convert and I now want to eat it three meals a day, seven days a week! I’m already dreaming of winter-vegetable heavy versions that will let me keep eating it past summer. Thank you, Ali, it’s amazing!

  • Reply Candy March 7, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Never ask open end questions. Ask for help. People like to help and gets the conversation going.

  • Reply Karen Morse March 7, 2018 at 8:07 am

    5 stars
    All the little things count. Especially when you’re with loved ones. It’s really nice to just savor the moment and just be present. This sounds like a lovely grilled recipe perfect for the summer days.

  • Reply Nikki March 7, 2018 at 8:34 am

    5 stars
    I love Panzanella! It’s like pasta salad, only it’s bread..just about anything goes. I like to add raw zucchinis and yellow squash sliced in thin half moons to mine and the dressing flavors them nicely. I also sometimes buy thick sliced salami and cut it into julienne strips, along with a dice of smoky provolone and some cannellini or kidney beans. I always add a small handful of raisins, chopped dates, or figs. Their touch of sweet is a nice foil in the tangy dressing. I like stale Pugliese bread for its porous quality – dressing and cheese lodge into it well. I bet roasted eggplant would be a great addition too.

  • Reply Jeanette March 7, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I have never figured out the whole why a dog chews is one thing over another. Our old dog would only eat our sons socks. He would also only eat my sons plastic toys. I never did figure that one out.

  • Reply Lisa March 7, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Just yesterday we had a dog eat a sock. Not chewed it up and ate it, but swallowed it whole. I’m afraid to think what he may do to flip-flops. And this looks amazing.

  • Reply Farrah Less March 7, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    5 stars
    My sister in LA made Panzanella (although we just called it bread salad) all summer long. It was perfect and filling for hot nights!

  • Reply Joanna March 7, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    I just started reading your blog and I am officially addicted! They say it only takes once to get hooked on some drugs, and apparently food blogs are just as insidious. YOURS in particular. Damn, just when I thought I weaned myself off Recipezaar

  • Reply Rebecca March 7, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    So with you on the not ordering jeans online – it never works! ha. The recipe looks amazing x

  • Reply Sara Welch March 7, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    5 stars
    Ali, this salad looks great! What a brilliant idea! It won’t slow me in my project of reading all your posts (that’s how addicted I am) I love the way you tell stories, and you really make me laugh!

  • Reply Kita Bryant March 7, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve had a sordid love affair with Panzanella (shhh, don’t tell my husband) for as long as I can remember! We even served it at our wedding and it was (almost) my favorite part. I can’t wait to have some bread that I was too lazy to put in the freezer (happens WAY more often than I would like to admit…….we end up with LOTS of “artisan” breadcrumbs) so I’m excited to try this one out. xo

  • Reply Val March 7, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve never had this dish before but it sounds flavorful and has great color. That stinks that the dog ate the replacement for the replacement for the shoe that he ate in the first place.

  • Reply Amanda March 7, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    5 stars
    I love eating panzanella salads when I am sitting on a beautiful outdoor patio but I have never tried making it myself. Will definitely save this for summer…if it ever arrives!

  • Reply Rhian Westbury March 8, 2018 at 4:39 am

    That is a far more interesting question to ask than how are you, and this dish sounds so tasty x

  • Reply Yolanda March 8, 2018 at 5:18 am

    Its almost lunch time here and I can hear my tummy rumbling when I look at your Panzanella. It looks amazing!!

  • Reply Lynne Harper March 8, 2018 at 5:23 am

    5 stars
    This looks incredible im such a sourdough lover and this ticks a lot of taste boxes for me. I have started trying to be good today and I’m so hungry I could seriously eat this now ha

  • Reply Angie March 8, 2018 at 6:13 am

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to make this. Love your posts, Ali. Your writing and storing telling always gets me. Every time..

  • Reply Rebecca Smith March 8, 2018 at 8:04 am

    5 stars
    I totally get what you mean about those awkward exchanges – I don’t like parties too much for this exact reason haha.
    That panzanella looks delicious – it is definitely something I need to add to the meal plan.

  • Reply Elizabeth March 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

    5 stars
    I love all your recipes! Everything looks so delicious and is beautifully photographed. I can’t believe I’ve never tried panzanella before; I need to remedy this!

  • Reply Meeta March 8, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Summer tomatoes were meant for a good panzanella. – and we love making it with sourdough. What wonderful colorful and vibrant images!

  • Reply Lisa Marie Heath March 8, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    I had never actually heard of panzanella before (my boyfriend side eyed me when I asked him what it was since he but this looks really good! Luckily my question sparked my boyfriends interest in making it for me, so I showed him this post!

  • Reply The London Mum March 9, 2018 at 4:21 am

    I haver never tried a panzenella but have always been intrigued by eating bred as part of a meal like that. I’ve just never been anywhere where they’ve had it or known how to create it myself so I’ll have to give it a whirl now!

  • Reply Angela March 9, 2018 at 5:14 am

    5 stars
    Yes, ordering jeans online doesn’t really work haha. That Panzanella sounds healthy and so flavorful! Love to try that one sometimes.

  • Reply Joanna March 9, 2018 at 5:29 am

    5 stars
    “You don’t need”, these are such important words. Because no, you don’t need that dress, you don’t need that expensive lipstick, you don’t need that pair of jeans, especially not ordered online. You do need plenty of slippers though for the dog the chew.

  • Reply Melanie williams March 9, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Just hit the print button, my mum will be adding this to her recipe file for sure – looks scrummy x

  • Reply Kara March 9, 2018 at 10:48 am

    This recipe looks and sounds delicious and perfect all year round. Certainly one I am going to try

  • Reply Vanessa Palma March 9, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe looks great and is a must-try. On the other hand, I loved your list of inner thoughts. Too funny.

  • Reply Candice Nikeia March 10, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I just discovered your site and am….elated! I love cookie for my flatmates because it makes everyone so happy and I told them all they would weight 20 pounds more by the end of this semester. I’m so happy I found this recipe! A cafe in the town I used to live in used to have a Panzanella on the menu that I could never resist. Thanks for all the great recipes on this site, can’t wait to try them!!

  • Reply Nicolette Lafonseca March 13, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    5 stars
    We are big on waste reduction at home so this is a wonderful.way to use up bread beyond the obvious croutons

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