This Mediterranean Bread Salad, also known as Panzanella salad, is a salad that's a versatile recipe loaded with chopped fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives. This healthy dish makes a great side dish or a light main dish. It's loaded with healthy Mediterranean flavor and is sure to become a family favorite! Try it out with your favorite entree or my Easy Roast Turkey with Herb Butter recipe.
Why it’s Awesome
It's quick and easy! Even if you are a beginner in the kitchen, you'll be able to make this recipe in no time. Most of the prep involves cutting the bread and vegetables. The only "cooking" involved is toasting the bread.
It's made with easy to find fresh and pantry ingredients. I don't enjoy hunting for ingredients so I try to be sure you don't have to either. You'll be able to find these items easily at your local grocery store.
It's loaded with healthy Mediterranean flavor! I love Mediterranean flavors like olive oil, tomatoes, and feta cheese. It's a bonus that they are good for you too. This recipe is a great way to squeeze in some extra nutrition and the kids will love it too.
Bread - Italian bread that is typically used for this is a loaf of white bread. If you have slightly stale bread, you can use it for this recipe because the bread will be baked and later absorb the dressing so it will taste good.
Olive Oil - I recommend using extra virgin olive oil for this salad, because that is the traditional way to make it and the flavor will be the best.
Tomatoes - Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes halved are great for this recipe. You can also use two large vine ripe tomatoes as well and cut them up into cubes.
Cucumber - This recipe calls for English or hot house cucumbers (they come wrapped in plastic). I like those because you don't have to peel them or take the seeds out. However, you can use regular cucumbers too. If you like the dark green color and don't mind the peel, then leave it on. You can also keep the seeds-it's really up to you!
Onion - Red onion thinly sliced adds a nice little kick of flavor to the salad.
Olives - Kalamata olives are the traditional Mediterranean olives that have a great flavor, especially in this salad with the other ingredients. Use black olives instead of Kalamata or try green olives or even a mixture. You can use olives whole, sliced in half, or the pre-sliced kind.
Basil - There is nothing better than fresh basil, especially in this salad! If you prefer to try Italian parsley that will work as well.
Cheese - Crumbled feta or grated parmesan are both delicious in this Mediterranean bread salad.
Vinegar - For the vinaigrette my first choice is to use white balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have this in your kitchen feel free to use regular balsamic or red wine vinegar as well.
Heat the oven to 350º F. Cut the bread into cubes. Place them on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat then bake for 20-25 minutes - or until crisp and dried out. Make the dressing; set aside. Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onion, and basil.
Place the toasted bread in a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onion, and sliced basil.
Pour the dressing over the bread mixture then gently toss it together.
Sprinkle with feta cheese over the top. Serve immediately.
Be sure your olives are well drained. If any of their brine goes into the salad, the bread will get soggy.
Skip the red onion if it's not your thing or sub with green onions.
Add-ins You can add a few more ingredients to this salad if you would like to experiment. For example, artichoke hearts go well in this, just make sure they are fully drained and chopped into nice bitesize pieces.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of the foods we eat? Visit the USDA for more info!
This Mediterranean Bread Salad is a great side with falafel because it also has delicious Mediterranean flavors. Falafel also goes well with pita bread and hummus.
Panzanella originated in Italy. This version is inspired by the Greek flavors of the Mediterranean.
Panzanella is the traditional Italian name for this recipe. This dish is great on its own as a light brunch, lunch or dinner. It's also great served with grilled meats or this Instant Pot Beef Brisket.
Panzanella is best served immediately, but it will hold for an hour or two at room temperature. If you would like to make it ahead, prep everything in advance. Keep the toasted bread in an airtight container or ziplock bag at room temperature. Keep the cut veggies in one container in the fridge, and the dressing in another. Toss everything together right before serving.
More Popular Salad Recipes
Mediterranean Bread Salad
- 1 - 14 ounce loaf of bread, cut into small one inch cubes French, Italian, Ciabatta, or Sourdough
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup for vinaigrette, 2 tablespoon for toasting bread
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or 2 large tomatoes
- 1 English cucumber, quartered regular cucumber, remove peel and seeds
- ¼ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup Kalamata olives or black olives
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil or Italian parsley sliced thin
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup crumbled feta or grated parmesan cheese optional
For the Vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar regular balsamic or red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Heat oven to 350º F.
- Cut bread into one inch cubes. Place on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoon olive oil, tossing with your hands or tongs to coat. Toast for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- While bread is in the oven, make the vinaigrette: Add oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to a small bowl or mason jar. Mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Cut cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and olives. Slice the basil into thin strips. Set aside.
- When the bread is ready, add it to a to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and herbs. Toss to combine. Pour vinaigrette over the salad, toss gently to coat. Top with cheese if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Originally posted October 2018. Updated June 2021.