A simple and vibrant panzanella salad (bread salad) with charred snap peas packs a flavor punch and makes a healthy, versatile two-sides-in one dish. And a pop of color on the plate!
The variations, of course, are endless based on what you like and what you have on hand. Just 35 minutes including a rest time for the salad to absorb the flavors.
I love combining two sides into one dish. With this humble recipe, you are getting carbs, veggies, herbs and fruit tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. All you need is a protein and you’re good to go.
Fresh summer ripe ingredients are best, especially if you want to use up those amazing garden tomatoes. Nowadays, though, so many good ingredients are available year round that I don’t avoid this colorful side dish during the rest of year.
What to expect
A traditional Italian bread salad or “Panzanella” is made with bread, tomatoes and basil. This one only takes about 20 minutes to make, but it’s best if it sits around a bit to absorb the flavors.
I like to make it on the gas grill to char the bread and snap peas. If you don’t have a grill, I’ve given instructions for a stove/oven method as well.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Where to begin? Almost anything goes, starting with bread, basil and tomatoes.
- A rustic Italian Tuscan loaf is traditional. I use a rustic multigrain artisan bread. Ciabatta will work too. Slightly stale bread is best to make sure the bread absorbs the dressing and doesn’t get too soft. Don’t use a regular soft fresh bread because it will become too mushy.
- Summer peak season tomatoes are best. Cut them up and only squeeze them a bit if they are extra juicy. Some juice is a fantastic flavor addition. If not in season, use good cherry tomatoes.
- This is the key flavor booster. I like a simple vinaigrette, but many other options would be great too. Try, for example, a Japanese sesame dressing for an Asian twist, an Apple Cider Vinegar dressing or a Balsamic dressing.
- Try peaches, grapes, nectarines, cucumbers (seeded), beets, charred green beans or peppers (instead of snap peas) radishes, green or red onions
- Add nuts, Mozzarella, Bocconcini or Parmesan cheese.
Step by step instructions
A grill basket makes this panzanella recipe easy.
Grill baskets are used to cook veggies, fish fillets, and other delicate foods on your BBQ grill. They help keep food from falling through the grates yet allows the food to retain the smoky flavor from grilling.
- Use your favorite good quality salad dressing (vinaigrette type is better than creamy).
- Try blanched or raw snap peas instead of charring them on the grill.
- Buy washed and ready to eat snap peas (strings removed). If you can’t find these, here’s a video on how to trim snap peas.
Bread salad is best made at least 15 minutes ahead to blend the flavors. I suggest serving it within up to 4 hours to avoid the bread becoming too soggy.
What to serve with bread salad
More panzanella recipes
- panzanella salad recipe with grilled chicken
- panzanella salad recipe with peaches
- grilled pesto shrimp panzanella
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Panzanella Salad With Charred Snap Peas
- Grill basket (or grill pan with holes)
- 2 1/2 cups 1-inch/2.5 cm bread cubes (slightly stale is best), Note 1 I use 4 one-inch thick bread slices of multigrain loaf
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder to sprinkle on bread cubes
- 2 cups snap peas, Note 2 strings removed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or any ripe tomatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced (optional but delish)
- 1 tablespoon shredded basil leaves add 2 tbsp if you like more basil
Vinaigrette Dressing (Note 2)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1 small clove
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar ok too – or lemon juice)
- 3 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper or more to taste
- HEAT GRILL to medium-high heat (about 425-450F/218-232C
- MAKE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Or place in lock-and-seal container and shake.
- GRILL BREAD CUBES: Toss bread cubes with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in grill basket in single layer then place basket over direct heat on preheated grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bread is golden brown with grill marks. Transfer bread to large bowl.
- GRILL SNAP PEAS: Add snap peas to grill basket. Grill for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until blistering or charring occurs. Transfer to bowl with bread.
- ASSEMBLE: Add to bowl the cherry tomatoes, diced mango (if using) and fresh basil. Pour on dressing and toss to coat bread salad well. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl if desired. Let set for at least 15 minutes to allow bread to absorb dressing. Taste and sprinkle with sea salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.
- Bread options: A rustic Italian Tuscan loaf is traditional. I use a rustic multigrain artisan bread. Ciabatta will work too. Slightly stale bread is best to make sure the bread absorbs the dressing and doesn’t get too soft. Don’t use a regular soft fresh bread because it will become too mushy.
- How to remove strings from snap peas: See this trimming snap peas video.
- Vinaigrette Dressing alternatives: Feel free to use your own favorite vinaigrette or even buy a good quality dressing. You will need about 1/4 cup/59 ml or just slightly more. Try a Japanese sesame dressing for an Asian twist, Apple Cider Vinegar dressing or a Balsamic dressing.
- Variations with ingredients:
- Fruits/veggies: Try peaches, grapes, nectarines, cucumbers (seeded), beets, charred green beans or peppers (instead of snap peas) radishes, green or red onions
- Garnish: Add nuts, Mozzarella, Bocconcini or Parmesan cheese.
- Heat: add some red pepper flakes to spice it up.
- Make Ahead: Bread salad is best made at least 15 minutes ahead to blend the flavors. I suggest serving it within 4 hours to avoid the bread becoming too soggy.
- Instead of Grilling, use oven/stove top:
- For bread cubes: Heat oven to 425F/218C. Place bread cubes, tossed with oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper and garlic powder on a pan. Bake for for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.
- For snap peas: Heat skillet on stovetop to medium high. Add snap peas and toss for about 4 minutes in a dry pan or until charred in spots.