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Avocado Panzanella Salad

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Avocado Panzanella Salad is a fun twist on the traditional bread salad. Crusty bread, fresh vegetables, creamy avocado, and a flavorful dressing combine for this delicious dish that’s perfect as a side, salad, or light meal.

overhead shot of finished panzanella salad in a white bowl with avocado and tomatoes on the side

It’s no secret that I love carbs. Give me all the bread and all the pasta, all the time.

My mom used to bake bread a lot when I was a kid, and having to wait for a slice of that fresh bread was almost like torture! There’s nothing quite like the smell or taste of fresh-baked bread.

Bread salad is not something I ate growing up, but it’s full of ingredients that I love. So it’s hard to resist a delicious, and hearty version. And that’s what I’ve got with my Avocado Panzanella Salad

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • You can make most of it ahead, so the flavors have time to develop
  • Toasting the bread adds great texture
  • It works as a side, a salad, or a light meal
shot of finished avocado panzanella salad in a white bowl
INGREDIENT TIPS FOR AVOCADO PANZANELLA SALAD
TIPS FOR THE BEST PANZANELLA BREAD

As much as I tout super fresh bread, for Panzanella you want bread that’s a little older. I buy the bread and let it sit for at least 2 days before using it.

I use an Italian loaf or French loaf. You want a nice crusty bread that will stand up to the dressing and other ingredients.

Cut the bread into 3/4″ cubes. You want them a solid thickness so the bread doesn’t get mushy, but not too big that it’s hard to eat.

Toss the bread cubes in melted butter, and then toast the bread in the oven for about 10 minutes. Neither step is traditional to Panzanella. But trust me…both of them are well worth it.

Add the bread to the Avocado Panzanella Salad within 30 minutes of serving. This ensures that the bread retains its texture and bite.

VEGETABLES

Since Avocado Panzanella Salad is a raw dish, use the freshest vegetables possible.

I like to use grape or cherry tomatoes, and multicolor variety gives a nice color combination. If you use larger tomatoes, you may want to remove the seeds to reduce the amount of excess liquid.

I use regular cucumbers, but you could also use the smaller English cucumbers if you prefer. I keep the skin on for color and remove the seeds. You can certainly keep the seeds if you prefer.

Red onions are sweeter than yellow, plus I love the bold color so that’s what I use. I slice the onions very thin, to soften the bite.

Creamy avocado is a fun twist on the traditional Panzanella. Like the bread, I wait until just before serving to add the avocado to keep it from turning brown.

Fresh basil adds a wonderful punch of flavor to Avocado Panzanella Salad. I grow it in the summer so I always have lots on hand. You can also find fresh basil year-round with other packaged herbs in the produce section of the grocery store.

PANZANELLA DRESSING

The dressing is really the star of Avocado Panzanella Salad and adds incredible flavor. Add the dressing to the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, and let it rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

The dressing is simple: oil, Red Wine Vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s easiest to combine the ingredients in a bowl with an airtight lid, and then shake it to fully combine.

I use avocado oil, but you can use your favorite type. I recommend a light, flavorless oil, that won’t compete with the other flavors.

Raw garlic can be very harsh in the dressing, so I use a Garlic Press, and the garlic distributes more evenly in the dressing and throughout the salad.

I prefer to under-dress the salad, and then people can add more to their portion. So I add 1/3 of the dressing to the vegetables, and then just a little more when I add the avocado and bread.

overhead shot of finished panzanella salad in a white bowl with avocado and tomatoes on the side
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Add tomatoes to a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar, and toss. Add red onion and cucumbers to the tomatoes. Toss to fully combine.

Add oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and pressed garlic to a container with an airtight lid. Seal and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

overhead process shot: tomatoes, onion & cucumbers in a glass bowl with a container of dressing on the side

Pour 1/3 of the dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine. Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours for the flavors to develop.

Remove the bowl with vegetables from the fridge 1 hour before serving.

30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cut bread into 3/4″ cubes. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add bread in batches, tossing to fully cover the bread.

overhead process shot: cubed bread in a black skillet with melted butter

Remove the bread cubes and transfer them to a baking sheet. Bake the cubes for 8-10 minutes.

overhead process shot: toasted bread on a baking sheet

Remove the bread from the oven and immediately transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.

overhead process shot: large bowl of vegetables, plus smaller bowls of bread, avocado and basil

Add the avocado, bread and basil to the bowl of vegetables. Add a little more dressing and stir to combine. Season with a little more black pepper.

Overhead shot of the right half of a bowl of finished Avocado Panzanella Salad in a white bowl with a yellow napkin on the side
SERVINGS AND LEFTOVERS

I recommend serving Avocado Panzanella Salad within 30 minutes of adding the bread and avocado.

As I mentioned earlier, serve the rest of the dressing on the side, so people can add more dressing to their portion.

Avocado Panzanella Salad is best on the day it’s made. After one day, the bread is very soggy, and the dish loses its fresh flavor.

You can prep the vegetables and add the dressing a day ahead, and finish with the bread and avocado when ready to serve.

overhead shot of finished panzanella salad in a white bowl with avocado and tomatoes on the side
MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH AVOCADO
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overhead shot of finished Avocado Panzanella Salad in a white bowl

Avocado Panzanella Salad

Yield: 8 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes

Avocado Panzanella Salad is a fun twist on the traditional bread salad. Crusty bread, fresh vegetables, creamy avocado, and a flavorful dressing combine for this delicious dish that’s perfect as a side, salad, or light meal

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Italian bread, cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 1  pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 medium avocadoes, peeled seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil

DRESSING

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed

Instructions

    1. Add tomatoes to a large bowl, and sprinkle with sugar. Add red onion and cucumbers to the tomatoes. Stir to fully combine.
    2. Add oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and pressed garlic to a container with an airtight lid. Seal and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
    3. Pour 1/3 of the dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine. Set in the fridge for 4 hours for the flavors to develop.
    4. Remove the bowl from the fridge 1 hour before serving
    5. 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING
    6. Preheat the oven to 350°
    7. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add half of the bread, tossing to fully cover the bread. Transfer bread to a baking sheet
    8. Melt the remaining butter, add the rest of the bread, and toss to fully cover. Transfer the rest of the bread to the baking sheet
    9. Bake the bread for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the bread to a bowl to cool slightly
    10. Add the avocado, bread, and basil to the bowl of vegetables. Add a little more dressing and stir to combine. Season with a little more black pepper.

Notes

You don't want super fresh bread for this recipe. I buy a loaf and let it sit for at least 2 days before using.

I use an Italian loaf or French loaf for the bread. You want a nice crusty bread that will stand up to the dressing and other ingredients.

Cut the bread into 3/4″ cubes. You want them a solid thickness so the bread doesn’t get mushy, but not too big that it’s hard to eat.

The melted butter and toasting the bread is not traditional to Panzanella, but it is so good! I highly recommend it

Add the bread and avocado within 30 minutes of serving. This ensures that the bread retains its texture and bite and the avocado retains its bright green color.

If you use larger tomatoes, you may want to seed them to reduce the excess liquid.

You can find fresh basil year-round with the other packaged herbs in the produce section of the grocery store.

I prefer to under-dress the salad, and then people can add more to their portion. So I add 1/3 of the dressing to the vegetables, and then just a little more when I add the avocado and bread.

SERVINGS AND LEFTOVERS

I recommend serving Avocado Panzanella Salad within 30 minutes of adding the bread and avocado.

Avocado Panzanella Salad is best on the day it’s made. After one day, the bread is very soggy, and the dish loses its fresh flavor.

You can prep the vegetables and add the dressing a day ahead, and finish with the bread and avocado when ready to serve.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 347Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 539mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

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