Winter Panzanella Salad with Mozzarella

Originally this Italian salad was made with preserved tomatoes and veggies during the long months of winter.  Even though the weather might not seem so wintry along the southern coasts of the country, the more alpine regions would surely be deep with snow and not everyone could go to the sun.  During those few months when fresh tomatoes were not so available,  thrifty and clever chefs (mamas) knew the palate craved a little a promise of mountain summer to come. To satisfy that longing they designed this salad as comfort food for their families’  and it remains a genuine favorite.  Fresh herbs were often available, grown indoors for both beauty and cook’s convenience, but when not available, dried versions were craftily used.  Summer panzanella would include chunks of baby summer squashes, cucumber and whatever wonderful fresh vegetables the kitchen garden offered up in this chopped salad, but in winter, the tomato became the risen STAR, it’s flavors and colors promising summer meals to relish.  We’ve added mozzarella for a rich protein element since nowadays we often make salad our one-dish-dinner.  Yum!

Summer Panzarella Salad Winter Panzarella would be made with preserved tomatoes.

~Summer Panzanella Salad~
Winter Panzanella Salad would be
made with preserved tomatoes and without chopped squash.

 4 to 6 servings

Bread Element

1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread* (sliced and torn into bite sized chunks)

*Any day-old rustic bread (plain, focaccia, sourdough, rosemary, garlic, etc)  works.



  •             2 cups chopped tomatoes (if canned, drain well – if fresh follow **) or
  •         **2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (if fresh, toss evoo with fresh chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper and roast in a single layer, cut sides up until skins wrinkle and begin to brown.  Remove from oven and cool)

Toss tomatoes and bread together with:

1 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced then mashed
  •          2 tbsp. dried sweet basil (or 1/2 cup fresh sweet basil, if available)
1/8 cup chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  •          1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •          8 0z. fresh mozzarella (cubed, cold salted, or Bocconcini)
  •          2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  •          2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts (optional)

Serve on individual salad plates

  •          Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  •          Slivered Parmesan on the side



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