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Panzanella Salad For Your Forgotten Bread

This recipe features some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers along with an ingredient that is past its prime -- stale bread.

Look at this beautiful salad! It's made up of tomatoes, red onions, cubes of mozzarella, basil and hunks of stale bread. That's right -- save those bread slices that are too stale to enjoy as a sandwich and throw them into this recipe!

I love Italian cooking because it lets the ingredients speak for themselves, and there are many ingredients in this recipe that have a lot to say!

Select the freshest tomatoes and cucumbers you can find, and then scavenge for stale bread in the back of your pantry. (Hopefully you haven’t tossed them in the compost just yet!)

I start by baking the chunks of bread into croutons, seasoned with Parmesan cheese, olive oil salt and pepper. Then, before I assemble the salad, I mix them with 1/4 cup of hot water to moisten them up.

Three different types of tomatoes add the color in this recipe — globe tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Do your guests a favor and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. No one enjoys chasing tomatoes around their plate with a fork!

One final pro tip before you get started… After you chop the garlic, take the side of your knife and smash it into a paste. You’ll taste the difference!

Panzanella Salad


  • 4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread, cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
  • 2 balls fresh mozzarlla cheese, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • dash of Herbes de Provence (savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano)

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes!
  2. Serve at room temperature.

A special shout out to my mother Mary Lu Orr for providing me with the jumbo basil leaves for this recipe, grown with love in her garden!

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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