A hearty and flavor packed Panzanella Salad Recipe (tomato and bread salad) with grilled Multigrain Sourdough, chickpeas and quinoa to round out this main course Tuscan bean salad! This salad is vegan, vegetarian and easily gluten free.
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Summer’s freshest ingredients come together in an effortless, hearty grilled panzanella salad. With minimal prep and cooking, this zesty salad is perfect for alfresco dining, picnics, a quick lunch or for an easy meal after a full day of work. It can hang out in the fridge for a few days too, which makes it ideal for lunches or a ready made dinner!
Because cold quinoa salads are such a staple during the summer, I bulked this panzanella bread salad recipe up, adding creamy chickpeas and quinoa. These additions add texture, and protein and stretches this salad several days further.
What is Panzanella Salad?
Panzanella salad is a Tuscan style salad made of fresh tomatoes, day old or stale bread cubes, onions and sometimes basil. It often includes cucumbers and is dressed with a zesty olive oil based dressing.
Grilled panzanella salad simply means that the bread is grilled to take this salad’s flavor profile over the top!
Because this panzanella bread salad recipe has chickpeas and quinoa in it, it’s not considered a traditional panzanella salad. However, in order to make this salad a main, I thew them in. I mean, why not?
Ingredients for this Grilled Panzanella Salad Recipe
A few fresh ingredients, sourdough or other crusty bread and pantry staples bring this panzanella bread salad recipe together with ease. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Quinoa – you can use tricolor (pictured here), red or white quinoa. Look for it in the bulk bins for best value.
- Cooked Chickpeas – home cooked or store bought will work in this recipe.
- Tomatoes – I like a mix of heirloom and cherry. In season tomatoes will deliver best color and flavor.
- Cucumber – slicing cucumber or kirby. In season cucumbers will have the best crunch and flavor.
- Purple/Red Onion – red onion can sometimes be stout, so to mellow the flavor, soak the slices in a bit of cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry before adding to the salad.
- Sourdough Bread Slices – homemade is my favorite, but store bought works beautifully for grilling.
- Basil – fresh for best flavor.
- Lemon – just a bit of fresh lemon juice for the dressing. It helps tie all the flavors together.
- Olive Oil – extra virgin for best flavor. I like California Olive Ranch.
- Red Wine Vinegar – for a hint of acid and sharp notes. It’s tangy and simply delicious in this salad.
- Garlic – use fresh minced for best flavor.
For meal prep, cook the quinoa and chickpeas up to two days in advance.
At a Glance: How to Make Panzanella Bread Salad
Plan ahead at least a half hour in advance as this salad’s flavor improves as it sets. Too, the grilled bread has time to marinate in the dressing and soften. In summary, here’s how to make this Tuscan bean salad (see recipe card for details):
- First, make the dressing in a small Mason jar by adding the oil, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, salt and garlic. Shaaake it up!
- Second, put the quinoa on to cook and grill the bread on an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill on medium high heat – a little charring is good – for about four minutes per side. Likewise, another way to dry the bread out is to simply be toast it on a baking sheet or in a toaster. Set aside to cool. Slice the bread into bite size pieces.
- Third, chop the tomatoes, cucumber and onions.
- Next, in a large bowl, add the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cooled quinoa, chickpeas and bread cubes.
- Last, pour the dressing over the salad, tear some basil and toss.
This bread salad can hang out in the fridge for up to three days! The flavors marry and the tomatoes release their juices further.
- Type of Bread? My favorite is Multigrain Sourdough or my Rustic Sourdough Bread, but any sourdough or crusty bread like ciabatta or a baguette will work.
- For this panzanella salad recipe, grilling sourdough bread offers a hint of smokiness and umami. However, if you don’t have a grill, you can toast it or use a grill pan.
- Gluten free? Yes please! Use your favorite gluten free bread or whip up a loaf of Gluten Free Sourdough Bread and use it in this recipe!
- Classic panzanella salad allows time for the bread to soak up all the juices from the dressing and tomatoes. However for a crunchy effect, add the grilled bread at the last minute.
- This bread salad improves with time, even after a few days! The chickpeas, quinoa and bread become extra soft, creamy and so flavorful!
More Hearty Summer Salads to Love
- Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing
- Chickpea Summer Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing
- Spinach Pecan Brown Rice Salad
- Market Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
- Lemon Orzo Salad
Grilled Panzanella Salad with Chickpeas and Quinoa
For the Dressing:
For the Salad:
- 1/4 C (50g) Quinoa rinsed
- 3/4 C (180g) Water
- 3 (250g) Hearty Slices of Sourdough Bread
- 2 C (455g) Chickpeas cooked, drained and rinsed. About one can.
- 13 oz (350g) Cucumber about 3 small or 1 medium, sliced in bite size pieces
- 1 3/4 lb (800g) Tomatoes a mix of heirloom and cherry, sliced in bite size pieces
- 1/2 (105g) Red Onion sliced thin, in bite size pieces
- Fist Full of Fresh Basil torn to taste
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
- In a small lidded jar add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt. Lid and shake until an emulsion is formed. Set aside.
For the Salad:
- In a small sauce pot, add the water and quinoa and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Simmer, unlidded for 11-13 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the 'tails' are showing. Rinse under cold water and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, prepare the grill or grill pan by heating it on high heat. Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the bread. Turn the heat down slightly and transfer the slices of bread to the grill or grill pan. Grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, just enough to toast the bread and to leave grill marks on each side. Set aside to cool. Once cool, use a serrated knife to slice into bite size pieces. Add to the mixing bowl with the quinoa.
- To the mixing bowl, add the tomatoes, cucumbers and onion and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss. Allow to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes then taste for salt adjustment. The bread should be soaked and soft. Tear fresh basil leaves to taste, add to the bowl then gently toss.
- Serve with more fresh basil and fresh cracked black pepper.
- Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days.