This easy recipe for Panzanella, otherwise known as a tomato and bread salad, gets extra flavor from creamy, dreamy ricotta cheese! The perfect summer side dish.
Well, we made it to pretty much the middle of summer, and in my house that means it is time for Panzanella!
It is a wonderful and summery recipe, and the perfect, perfect thing to make when tomatoes and basil are in full swing and the days are still too hot to even THINK of turning on the oven.
What is Panzanella?
Panzanella is an Italian salad that is made from chunks of stale (or in this case toasted) bread and chopped tomatoes.
The juice from the tomatoes soaks into the bread and softens it up, and it often contains cucumbers, onions, basil and various other things, but the essential elements are the bread and tomatoes.
I love to use heirloom tomatoes for this recipe when I can find ’em. Heirlooms are tomatoes grown from special seeds, and are known for their glorious rich tomato flavor (and sometimes their weird lumpy shape, but don’t let that stop you from picking them up if you see them!).
They are a little more spendy than regular tomatoes, but they are worth every delicious penny!
I like to add a little olive oil and vinegar to my Panzanella, and a whole lot of basil…
…and to top it all of with a generous spoonful of creamy, dreamy ricotta cheese!
Now that we have the main players all assembled, let’s get to it!
How to make Ricotta Panzanella Salad
Preheat your oven to 375. Spread about 5 cups of bite-sized pieces of bread (cut or roughly torn are both fine) on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, about 15 minutes. (Start checking them after 10 minutes if your oven runs hot.)
Combine 1 pound of fresh diced tomatoes (heirloom if you can find ’em!), 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle on a little sea salt and pepper.
Add the toasted bread and a half cup of torn fresh basil and toss to combine. Let it all sit for 20 to 30 minutes so bread can soak up the liquid.
Divide among plates and top with a generous spoonful of fresh ricotta, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little more salt and pepper.
More tips for making Ricotta Panzanella Salad!
Sort of? You do need a half hour or so for the bread to soak up the tomato juice and the olive and vinegar, but you don’t want to leave it too long so that the bread gets mushy. This is a recipe that is worth planning to make about 45 minutes before you serve it up.
Heirloom tomatoes are the very best, and my second choice would be halved cherry tomatoes, which seem to keep their lovely tomato taste all year long. And after that, local non-heirloom tomatoes will also work!
You want a pretty substantial bread that won’t break down at the first drop of tomato juice! Italian bread, ciabatta bread and French baguettes are all good choices, and I love my almost no-knead bread for this recipe too.
Now, Now, we ate this all by its gorgeous self, but I can also imagine it as a scrumptious side dish alongside grilled sliced steak or chicken. Yum, right? In any language.
And I vote for adding Ricotta Panzanella Salad Day to the calendar – who’s with me?
Want to round out your meal? This recipe pairs well with...
This easy recipe for Panzanella, otherwise known as a tomato and bread salad, gets extra flavor from creamy ricotta cheese! The perfect summer side dish.
- 5 cups crusty bread, cut or torn into one each pieces
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- Preheat oven to 375. Spread bread on a baking sheet and toast until golden, about 15 minutes.
- Combine tomatoes, vinegar and oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle on a little sea salt and pepper.
- Add toasted bread and basil and toss to combine. Let sit for 20-30 minutes so bread can soak up the liquid.
- Divide among plates and top with a generous spoonful of ricotta, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little more salt and pepper.
Need to add something to your kitchen equipment to make this recipe? Below are some of the items we used in the Framed Cooks kitchen to help cook this up. These are affiliate links to things we use and love, which helps to pay for all that bacon I keep buying (without any extra cost to you)! Thanks for using them to keep our kitchen cooking…xoxo!