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Panzanella – a Healthy Tuscan Bread Salad with Mozzarella & Tomatoes

This simple Tuscan bread salad may taste as least as good as the Italian original, but it’s much more calorie-friendly. At the same time, it’s a great weeknight dinner and obviously the perfect side dish for barbecues and picnics. Oh yeah, it’s also an easy make-ahead-and-take-to-work-lunch which will make all your co-workers extremely jealous. 😊

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Panzanella - Tuscan bread salad served with fresh basil, arugula, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese

 Here’s Why This Panzanella Is Much Heathier Than the Original…

This Tuscan bread salad is also called Panzanella and is a typical Italian recipe. It’s made with all the best Italian ingredients which are ciabatta bread, sun-ripened tomatoes and of course lots of high-quality Italian olive oil. 

I think it’s obvious that this salad is extremely delicious. However, you probably already realize that it’s not exactly a healthy salad. After all, white bread and a large amount of olive oil usually add up to quite a lot of calories.

But with exactly two little tricks, we can transform the classic Tuscan bread salad into a very calorie-friendly, healthy summer salad that may even taste better than the original.

Trick number one is using whole wheat bread. Yes, I know I say it over and over again, but that’s because it’s so important and helpful. Since whole grain bread and whole grain products contain so much more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white bread, they are so good for our digestion and overall well-being.

Trick number two is the dressing. In the original Italian recipe, the Tuscan bread salad is simply served with lots and lots of olive oil. Although olive oil is an insanely healthy food, it is also very high in calories. One tablespoon already has more than 120 calories! And for a bread salad like this, you’ll need way more than a tablespoon.

That’s why we fry some of the tomatoes together with a shallot, some garlic and a little bit of oil in a pan and then deglaze it with balsamic vinegar. The result is probably the best bread salad dressing in the world, which is also super low in calories.

100% whole wheat no knead bread
100% Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread

Ingredients

The quantities given in this recipe refer to approximately two servings of this healthy Tuscan bread salad. However, feel free to double, triple, or halve them, depending on how many people you’re cooking for. 

Besides, you can always prepare a little more of it right away, since the leftovers will still taste really delicious the next day and are guaranteed to make all your colleagues jealous. 

And in case you like to have a larger portion or one with more or less calories, carbs, proteins, or fats, feel free to adjust the amounts to your individual needs. 

I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more or less than I do.

You’ll need …

  • 200 grams or 7 ounces of a day-old whole wheat bread (I like to use my 100% whole wheat no knead bread, which I already baked the day before.)
  • two teaspoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 400 grams or 14 ounces of cherry tomatoes
  • one shallot and two cloves of garlic
  • two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 50 to 70 grams or about 2 to 2.5 ounces of arugula
  • 120 grams or 4.2 ounces of (fat-reduced) mozzarella balls
  • half a bunch of fresh basil leaves
ingredients for the tuscan bread salad

Variations and Substitutions

I like to use my homemade whole wheat bread for this healthy Tuscan bread salad, which is already a day or two old. But feel free to use a store-bought (unsliced) bread instead.

Alternatively, you can also use some whole wheat toast or rolls. Once I even made this salad with my defrosted whole wheat burger buns and even that worked out surprisingly well.

But, in case you don’t want to miss out on the typical Italian character of ciabatta, you can also use a dayold ciabatta loaf instead.

Tuscan Bread Salad with Mozzarella and Tomatoes – Here’s How to Make It

Since this recipe is so super easy, we just need 15 minutes to prepare this healthy Tuscan bread salad. Therefore, we start by switching on our oven to 200°C (400°F) and cut our bread into bite-sized cubes.

Next, put these bread cubes on a baking tray, drizzle them with a teaspoon of olive oil and some salt and give them a good toss. And then this tray goes directly into the oven for 10 minutes.

While the bread is roasting in the oven, we take care of the rest. The first thing to do is to wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Next, peel and finely dice the shallot and garlic.

Now heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and fry the diced onion and garlic there with a generous pinch of salt until translucent. Then add most of the tomatoes and let them sizzle over medium heat for about three to four minutes. 

Finally, deglaze with the balsamic vinegar and let it simmer gently for about a minute before removing the sauce from the heat.

At this point your bread should be ready, so take it out of the oven and put it in a large bowl. Add the rest of the tomatoes, the washed arugula and basil leaves, and the halved mozzarella balls. Finally, pour the delicious tomato sauce over the salad and season the panzanella with salt and pepper.

I hope you like this simple and healthy Tuscan bread salad and that you give it a try soon. 

If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at contact@julesbalancedrecipes.com or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes). 

And in case, you’ve tried this Tuscan bread salad recipe, I’d appreciate your comment and rating. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Jules

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Panzanella - Tuscan bread salad served with fresh basil, arugula, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese

Tuscan Bread Salad

Julia Schmitt
This healthy version of the Italian Panzanella is served with a flavorful tomato-garlic-balsamic-dressing, tomatoes, mozzarella, arugula and basil. Feel free to substitute the toasted whole wheat bread with rolls or regular ciabatta bread.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 393 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 baking tray
  • 1 medium-sized non-stick frying pan
  • 1 big salad mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 200 g whole wheat bread * (7 oz)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • 400 g cherry tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50-70 g arugula (2 to 2.5 oz)
  • 120 g (fat-reduced) mozzarella balls (4.2 oz)
  • ½ bunch of fresh basil leaves

Instructions
 

Bread

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes, place them on a baking sheet and mix with a teaspoon of oil and some salt. Roast the bread in the oven for 10 minutes.
    roasted bread cubes on a baking tray

Dressing

  • Wash and halve the tomatoes. Peel and finely dice the shallot and garlic. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic with a little salt until translucent.
    sautéed onions and garlic
  • Add most of the tomatoes to the pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes over medium to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, cut the mozzarella balls in half and wash the arugula and basil.
    sautéed cherry tomatoes, garlic and onions
  • Deglaze the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, let it simmer for about a minute and then remove the pan from the heat.
    sautéed cherry tomates in a pan

Serve

  • Place the bread cubes in a large bowl, add the mozzarella, arugula, remaining tomatoes and basil and toss with the tomato-garlic-balsamic dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
    roasted bread, mozzarella cheese, arugula and cherry tomatoes in a bowl

Notes

*I like to use my 100% whole wheat bread for this recipe but feel free to use another whole wheat bread, rolls or regular ciabatta bread instead. 
Nutritional values per serving:
  • calories: 393 kcal
  • fat: 11 g
  • carbohydrates: 47 g
  • proteins: 22 g
Keyword Healthy Tuscan Bread Salad, Panzanella Recipe, Summer Salad Recipe

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