This easy and delicious summer peach panzanella salad is packed with fresh and delicious summer produce! With peaches, arugula, and tomatoes, this summer is perfect for entertaining or is great paired with grilled chicken or fish.
Panzanella is a classic Italian salad dish that has a base of bread. 'Pane' in Italian means 'bread', so this dish is basically a bread salad, and I'm not mad about it one bit!
This salad is traditionally made with tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and fresh basil. The colors represent the Italian flag, which is awesome!
This recipe is a summer twist on the classic panzanella salad with fresh peaches, arugula, and a tangy dressing that your guests will love.
I love a classic panzanella salad, but I wanted to add in a seasonal summer twist. Peaches are so delicious in June and they're available almost everywhere, so I decided to add some peaches for a touch of sweetness.
I also added in arugula to for a little but of bitterness to balance out the peaches. It works so well together!
The rest of the salad has your classics, crispy, marinated bread, juicy summer tomatoes, red onion, and fresh basil.
A side note - always buy a basil plant in the summer. Even if you're not a big gardener, having fresh basil on hand will level up your summer cooking. Basil is my favorite herb of all time and I use it on almost every dish in the summer!
The end result of this salad is a fresh, bright salad with tons of flavor. This is a great one for entertaining - and even easier that you can make it ahead of time!
About the Recipe: Summer Peach Panzanella Salad
This Summer Peach Panzanella salad is truly so easy! Let's walk through the steps to make it:
Step 1: Sweat the Tomatoes
Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and cover with 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix well and let the tomatoes sit for 15 minutes. Do not skip this step!
Adding the salt lets the tomatoes "sweat" and release excess moisture. This is necessary because without this step, the bread would get too soggy immediately from the tomato juice.
This ensures that your tomatoes will be firm and not runny, which is exactly what you are looking for in this recipe.
Step 2: Toast the Bread
Next, you will toast the bread. Cut 1 lb of bread into cubes - don't worry if they aren't all the same size, this does not have to be perfect!
Once your bread is cut, heat your olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the bread and toast for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
The bread will likely soak up the olive oil fast, so feel free to add more olive oil and also reduce temperature to low to prevent any burning.
You're looking for a uniform golden brown texture - don't worry if it seems like the bread is too crunchy, it will be softened up by the dressing soon.
Step 3: Combine Dressing Ingredients
Next you need to make the salad dressing. This dressing is super simple and so good! Combine extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl or a mason jar. Stir or shake well and set aside.
Pro tip - double the dressing and save some for later. Because although this dressing is super simple, it is SO good. I have been using it on all of my salads lately and I love it!
Step 4: Make the Panzanella Salad
Combine the tomatoes, bread, peaches, red onion, garlic, and arugula in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss, letting everything combine evenly.
Let the salad sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. This helps the bread load up the dressing and brings all of the flavors together.
Step 5: Add Basil and Serve
Add lots of fresh basil and serve in a big salad bowl. If you need a new big salad bowl, check out this one on Amazon. It's beautiful and perfect for entertaining!
Choosing The Bread: Which is Best?
One frequent question for panzanella salad is which bread to choose. The best bread is going to be something with a thicker crust and dense crumb.
Sourdough or ciabatta is great for this, because these breads are thicker and can stand up to heat without burning, then soak up the dressing without falling apart.
Another good choice of bread is a French baguette.
You can also use day old bread too - this recipe is a great way to use a half loaf of bread the next day!
I recommend staying away from a fine bread such as a fresh Italian loaf. While this bread is delicious, it is very soft and won't yield best results for this recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Panzannella salad is excellent paired with grilled meats, fish, or shrimp. It would be delicious served with a grilled skirt steak, grilled marinated chicken, or a mild white fish.
Sourdough or ciabatta bread is best for panzanella. Choose a bread that has a thick crust and a dense inside so it can withstand heat and also soak up the dressing without falling apart.
'Pane' means bread and 'zanella' means bowl in Italian. Essentially, panzanella is a salad with bread as the base of the dish.
More Side Dish Recipe Ideas
Looking for more easy and delicious side dishes? Here are a few that I think you'll love!
Fresh Spring Potato Salad - This recipe isn't your typical potato salad recipe! There's no mayo or cream. Instead, this mustard and vinegar based potato salad with fresh vegetables is a great unique choice to incorporate a fresh twist on potato salad. This is great for cookouts or an easy side dish for lunch or dinner.
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower - Everyone loves mashed potatoes, but have you tried their lighter cousin, mashed cauliflower?! This recipe is packed with flavor but is lighter on calories. I love this recipe for a meal prepped side dish to eat throughout the week. Yum!
Roasted Carrots with Yogurt, Walnuts, and Mint - This super unique recipe is a wonderfully unexpected combination of flavors. This is great dish that feels fancy but is actually super easy! Give this one a try the next time you're looking for something brand new.
Summer Peach Panzanella Salad
- Salad Ingredients:
- 1 ½ lb tomatoes cut into cubes
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 lb sourdough or ciabatta bread cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 peaches sliced
- ½ red onion sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups arugula
- Fresh basil for serving
- Dressing Ingredients:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Cover with 2 tsp salt and mix well. Let tomatoes sit for 15 minutes, allowing them to drain excess moisture. After 15 minutes, discard excess water and pat tomatoes dry.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add bread cubes and toast for 10 minutes, until golden brown. If pan gets dry or bread starts to burn, add more olive oil.
- Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
- Combine tomatoes, bread, peaches, red onion, garlic, and arugula in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss, then let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve with fresh basil.
- Do not skip step 1 - letting the tomatoes sit with the salt is extremely important for this recipe.
- I recommend using sourdough or ciabatta bread for this recipe.