White enameled serving bowl filled with toasted bread, mozzarella balls, cucumber and basil in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

I’m not the hugest fan of summer.  I’m not sure why everyone loves the extreme heat, humidity and bugs, but if there’s one thing I can get down with, it’s a perfectly ripe tomato.  Tomatoes just taste better when they’re in season.  Panzanella and caprese are two of my favorite tomato dishes so I like to put them together for the ultimate summer side.  I’ll even turn this into main by adding some chopped grilled chicken.   Make the salad about 15 minutes before serving to allow the dressing to slightly soften the toasted bread.

Panzanella Caprese Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6



  • ½ large loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 1” cubes (about 6 cups)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic glaze
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 10-ounce container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled, cut into ¾” chunks
  • 1 8-ounce container ciliegine mozzarella balls, drained (or 8-ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed)
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


  • MAKE THE CROUTONS: Preheat the oven to 375-degrees and line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the bread in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle the oil over the bread.
  • Add the salt, garlic powder and pepper and toss well to combine.
  • Spread the bread evenly onto the prepared sheet pan.
  • Bake until the exterior is crispy, but the inside is still soft when squeezed, for 10 to 15 minutes; cool completely.
  • MAKE THE DRESSING: In a medium bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze Dijon, salt and pepper until well combined.
  • While whisking constantly, drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.
  • ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: In a large bowl, combine the croutons, tomatoes, cucumber, mozzarella and basil and toss to combine.
  • Add dressing, to taste, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.


This makes a generous amount of dressing. Dress the salad to your liking.
Course: Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino