Summer Defined: Tomato-Bread Salad

I’m not growing any tomatoes this year – summer kind of snuck up on me before I got to planting them – but the farmer’s market and produce stand tomatoes are plentiful and wonderful. Even the supermarket tomatoes are darn good eating this time of year.

This simple salad is possibly the dish that says “summer” the loudest around our house. It’s a terrific way to use up that two-or-three-day-old bread that can’t quite stand on its own any more.

I’m told the Italians call this “panzanella,” but to me it will always be just “tomato-bread salad.” It’s great with your favorite grill fare, or on its own (with a glass of wine, of course) for a light supper.

Tomato – Bread Salad

Yield: 4 side-dish servings


    Cut and dry bread cubes: 6 – 8 hours
    Prep: 10 minutes
    Rest: 30 minutes


    3 1″-thick slices (about 5 oz.) crusty bread such as this one, preferably a little stale, cut into 1″ cubes
    1 clove garlic
    a generous pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 t., or to taste)
    a few grinds of black pepper, to taste
    2 T. olive oil
    1-1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
    2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
    1/4 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
    20 fresh basil leaves, torn or cut into large pieces


  1. In the morning, cut the bread cubes and let them sit out all day to dry out a bit.
  2. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the cut side on the inside of a (preferably wooden) salad bowl.
  3. Mince the garlic and whisk it in the bowl with the salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar.
  4. Toss the bread, tomatoes, onion, and basil with the dressing.
  5. Allow the salad to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to develop the flavors and allow the bread to soak up some of the dressing and tomato juice. The bread should be soft but not soggy.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Patrick says

    I love this salad. Some version of it is a summer staple around our house. Kalamata olives and fresh mozzarella, as well as whatever is coming out of the garden at the moment are nice to include, though certainly not necessary.

  2. says

    Thanks for re-charging my stale suppertime menu; I’ve been in need of a ‘shot-in-the-arm’, and this lovely item will be just the fix.

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