This panzanella (bread salad) without tomatoes combines fresh vegetables with herb soaked bread for a flavourful side salad. It makes the most of seasonal herbs and vegetables for a summer panzanella perfect for lunches, picnics or BBQs.
Come summer Italian flavours are always on the menu for my family, especially fragrant basil and creamy mozzarella. I also use these in my cherry caprese salad and stone fruit caprese salad, and both are summer favourites.
For another fun idea, my fall-inspired roasted vegetable panzanella salad is such a crowd-pleaser and full of the sweetness of roasted vegetables.
This summer salad is all about the bread soaked and toasted in a good olive oil and herbs. We leave out tomatoes so it is more suitable for those who aren't a fan, or are unable to tolerate due to dietary requirements such as being on a low histamine diet or having conditions such as eczema or urticaria (if tomatoes pose an issue for you). It's flavourful and makes a lovely side dish that comes together in around half an hour.
Why this recipe is so good
Fresh and light. Although we use oil and bread, the bell peppers, cucumber and fragrant basil make this salad feel very summery. Plus it's so pretty!
Summer produce but enjoy year-round. Perfect for BBQs, picnics and potlucks in the warmer weather!
Easy to make. All the steps are simple, with just a little time toasting the bread and frying the bell peppers.
Make sure to see the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and their quantities!
This summer panzanella uses fresh vegetables, herbs and of course the bread soaked and toasted in herb oil. Some notes on a few of the main ingredients you will need:
- Bread - the main ingredient, use the type that works for you best and cut into small cubes to soak up the oil. Traditionally panzanella uses older bread that is starting to go stale, but my low histamine readers may be better using fresh.
- Bell peppers - used in place of tomatoes, these give a good crunch and sweetness. Personally I think they are better softened a little with a bit of time in the skillet, but they can be used raw.
- Basil - fresh, summery and gives an Italian feeling to the panzanella. Use fresh basil leaves rather than dried in the salad.
Variations to the recipe
Not a fan of onion? Simply leave out or swap for some olives if these are suitable for you.
Adjust the quantities in terms of the bread and vegetables ratio to preference.
Step by step instructions
Dice the bell peppers, cucumber and onion (image 1).
Dice the bread into small cubes (image 2).
Add the onions to ice water and set aside for at least ten minutes (twenty minutes is better if you have the time). This helps reduce the strong taste of the onion (image 3).
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and stir or whisk to combine (image 4).
Fry the bell peppers in a little olive oil in a skillet for 5-6 minutes on a medium heat. Stir to prevent burning, but a little colour is good! Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool.
Add the cubed bread to the skillet (no need to clean it first), drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the herbs. Toast in the pan for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. To preference, add more olive oil if you like very soaked toasted bread.
Alternatively, you can add the bread to a baking tray and toss in the olive oil and bake for around ten minutes.
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine in the dressing.
- Adjust the amount of garlic in the dressing and the amount of dried herbs for the bread to preference. This salad has fairly subtle flavours, so if you wish to increase simply add a little more.
- If time is of the essence, the onion can be included without soaking first (although it will have a stronger flavour). The bell peppers can also be added raw, and will have a more crispy taste and texture.
- Stale bread is traditionally used in a panzanella. If this works for you then it's a good way to use any knocking about the kitchen about to go stale! However, this isn't likely a good idea for my low histamine readers who would be better off using fresh bread.
More salads to enjoy
Panzanella without tomatoes
- 3 cups bread diced into cubes
- ⅓ cucumber finely sliced
- ½ red bell pepper diced into cubes
- ½ yellow bell pepper diced into cubes
- ¼ white onion finely sliced
- handful fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or mixed herbs
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
For the dressing
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced or finely diced
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper optional
- Add the onion to a bowl of iced water and set aside for at least 10 minutes (20 minutes is better if you have the time). Use a spoon to remove from the water and set aside.
- Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and stirring to combine.
- Add the bell peppers to a skillet and fry in a little olive oil for 5-6 minutes to soften. Remove and set aside to cool.
- In the same skillet, add the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the dried herbs. Toast for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir well to combine.
- Adjust the amount of garlic and herbs to taste preference.
- If the bread seems as though it is a little dry in the skillet, drizzle over a little more olive oil.
- An alternative method is to add the bread to a baking tray, toss in the oil and herbs and bake for around ten minutes.
- Adjust the ratio of bread to vegetables to preference.
- Traditionally, panzanella is made with stale bread. This may be problematic if you have histamine issues as fresh food tends to be best. I have used both fresh bread and bread straight from the freezer and both worked well. If you use frozen bread the cook time may be a couple of minutes longer.
- Panzanella is often left to 'sit' for a few hours to allow the flavours to develop. If you follow a low histamine diet this may not be workable due to histamine development on food. It's still delicious served immediately though!
- bread - wheat scores a '1' and has a ? as a liberator.
- garlic, which scores a '1'.
- distilled white vinegar scores '0', but apple cider vinegar scores '1'.
- black pepper, which scores 2.
- if using mixed herbs, check they are all suitable for you.