This hearty Italian bread salad features ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and crispy prosciutto throughout a base of homemade gluten-free croutons. Tossed in an herby oil and vinegar dressing, this gluten-free panzanella salad is a dish that is sure to impress.
This Gluten-Free Panzanella Salad recipe will transport you straight to Italy! Panzanella is a popular summer dish in Tuscany made from stale soaked bread, fresh tomatoes, and a dressing of oil and vinegar. It can then be crafted with additional fresh vegetables, herbs, and delicious additions—just like this recipe!
This gluten-free panzanella features homemade toasted croutons, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and mozzarella, plus fresh basil, crispy prosciutto, and an herby vinaigrette. Serve it as an appetizer, side dish, or even lunch! Your family and guests are sure to love it's fresh flavour and varied textures.
Fun Fact: Did you know it's believed that the word panzanella is derived from the Italian words pane = bread and zanella = deep bowl which it's served in?!*
Want to learn how you can make your own gluten-free panzanella? Keep on reading!
Looking for more gluten-free appetizers? Check these out:
- Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread
- Fig & Prosciutto Pizza with Goat Cheese
- Melon & Prosciutto Skewers
- Air Fryer Zucchini Fries
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Transport yourself to Italy with all of these classic flavours.
- It's extremely customizable! Omit certain ingredients to suit your dietary preferences or requirements such as dairy-free, vegetarian, or vegan.
- Comes together quick with little hands-on time!
Here is everything you'll need to make this gluten-free panzanella salad:
- Gluten-free baguette or loaf of bread: You want to use a thick, hearty bread that will hold up to the liquids in this salad. If you can find a gluten-free baguette, that would probably be the best! Since gluten-free breads tend to go crumbly when stale instead of hard like regular bread, you can use fresh or slightly old bread.
- Olive oil: Don't be shy. The oil will help crisp up the bread, making it sturdy enough for the salad.
- Salt: Don't be shy here too! Salt is flavour.
- Prosciutto: The crispy prosciutto in this recipe adds a nice crunch in addition to the bread. If you are vegetarian or vegan, simply omit the prosciutto.
- Ripe vine tomatoes: The fresher the better! Perfect for tomato season.
- Cucumber: Adds a nice fresh crunch.
- Kalamata olives: Use whatever kind you have on hand. Optional if you don't like olives.
- Fresh basil: Fresh is always best! Rip up the leaves to release their aroma, and wait until serving to toss on top so they don't wilt.
- Fresh bocconcini mozzarella: Because who doesn't like an excuse to eat fresh mozzarella?! It goes so well with the flavours in this dish. Feel free to omit for dairy-free and vegan.
Create a simple yet classic dressing that pairs well with the combination of flavours in this salad.
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh minced garlic
- Dijon mustard: If you do not have dijon mustard, you could use a small amount of regular mustard, or a drop of honey to help thicken and emulsify the vinaigrette. Note that this will sweeten it slightly.
- Dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
Be sure to read the recipe card below for the full ingredient list and instructions.
Begin by preheating your oven to 400ºF. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and a second sheet pan with a wire rack on top.
(1) Cut the baguette or bread into small crouton-sized cubes.
(2) Add to a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt. Add more if needed.
(3) Spread the croutons onto the wire rack above the baking sheet. This will allow them to crisp on all sides.
(4) Place the slices of prosciutto on the parchment-lined baking sheet in little rosettes. Place both sheet pans in the oven. The prosciutto will bake for 15 minutes, and the croutons for about 20 minutes.
(5) In the meantime, chop the vegetables.
(6) Sprinkle the tomatoes with a good pinch of salt, then place in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allow to sit and release juices while you prepare the other vegetables.
(7) You may also whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup.
(8) & (9) Remove the prosciutto from the oven after 15 minutes, and the croutons 5 minutes later. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
(10) & (11) Once the croutons have cooled for 5 minutes, place them in a large bowl along with the tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, kalamata olives, and mozzarella. Drizzle with the dressing and, if you wish, some of the tomato juices. Use tongs or salad spoons to toss the salad together, and place into a serving dish.
Allow the salad to sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature before topping with the basil and prosciutto. Serve immediately and enjoy!
How to Serve
There are so many ways to enjoy this gluten-free panzanella salad. Here are some suggestions:
- Serve as an appetizer "salad" course
- Serve as a side dish with grilled or roasted chicken, beef, veal, or seafood and some vegetables
- Serve as a lunch main
Gluten-Free Panzanella Salad is best on the day it's made, at room temperature. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the fridge overnight, although the bread will have a softer texture. Leftover panzanella can be eaten cold or allowed to come to room temperature.
Substitutions & Customizations
While this gluten-free panzanella recipe is crafted with optimal flavour pairings, there are a few areas in which you have the ability to make it your own! Here are some suggestions:
- Bread type: Use whatever type of gluten-free bread you have to make the croutons. But remember that this is the base of the salad, so ensure that your bread is hearty enough to withstand all the juices.
- Salad ingredients: Again, feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand. The ingredients in the recipe card are some of the most traditional.
- Dietary restrictions: Feel free to leave out the olives, cheese, or prosciutto if you do not like or cannot have them. This recipe can be easily adapted for dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets.
- Be liberal with the olive oil and salt on the croutons. Since this is all you put on the bread, this is the flavour!!
- Toast until the croutons are very crunchy. Since they will soften up in the salad, ensure your homemade croutons are extra toasty before incorporating them.
- Salt your tomatoes. Tossing the chopped tomatoes with some salt and letting them hang in a mesh strainer will allow them to release some juices before going into the salad. This can help reduce the chance of soggy bread. But, those tomato juices are incredibly flavourful, so feel free to add some to the dressing.
- Combine and dress at the last minute. Unfortunately this is not a great make-ahead salad. Just 20-30 minutes is all it needs for the flavours to sit and mingle. Much more than that and you will have a soggy panzanella. While you can prepare individual elements beforehand, wait to combine the bread, vegetables, and dressing, and top with the basil and crispy prosciutto just when serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! You can customize this panzanella salad recipe to suit your dietary restrictions.
To make vegetarian: Omit prosciutto
To make dairy-free: Omit mozzarella
To make vegan: Omit prosciutto and mozzarella
Plain bread and tomatoes need flavour, and since this recipe is so simple, most of that comes from olive oil, basic seasonings, and (a fair amount of) salt. So don't try to reduce their quantities for optimal texture and flavour.
It's believed that the word panzanella is derived from the Italian words pane = bread and zanella = deep bowl which it's served in.*
The great thing about this gluten-free panzanella salad is that it can be served so many ways! Serve it as an appetizer, main, or side dish. It is great paired with grilled chicken or fish, veal or chicken cutlets, roasted vegetables, fresh salad, you name it!
And there you have a delicious gluten-free meal, appetizer, side—you name it! This gluten-free panzanella salad is a deliciously fresh combination of seasonal produce. It is extremely customizable for a variety of dietary restrictions. Enjoy with friends and family!
Have you made this gluten-free panzanella salad? I'd very much appreciate it if you leave a comment below and tag me on instagram @livglutenfree!
More Appetizers You'll Love
Gluten-Free Panzanella Salad
- 1 gluten-free baguette or loaf of bread about 400g total
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 slices of prosciutto omit for vegetarian
- 3 ripe vine tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cucumber, cut in circles then quartered
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 tablespoon kalamata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
- 5 leaves of fresh basil, torn or chopped
- 100 g fresh bocconcini mozzarella omit for dairy-free and vegan
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ scant cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon each: salt and pepper
- Begin by preheating your oven to 400ºF. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and a second sheet pan with a wire rack on top.
- Cut the baguette or bread into small crouton-sized cubes. Add to a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt. Add more if needed. Spread the croutons onto the wire rack above the baking sheet. This will allow them to crisp on all sides.
- Place the slices of prosciutto on the parchment-lined baking sheet in little rosettes. Place both sheet pans in the oven. Remove the prosciutto after 15 minutes, and the croutons after about 20 minutes. Then allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop the vegetables. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a good pinch of salt, then place in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allow to sit and release juices while you prepare the other vegetables. You may also whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup.
- Once the croutons have cooled for 5 minutes, place them in a large bowl along with the tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, kalamata olives, and mozzarella. Drizzle with the dressing and, if you wish, some of the tomato juices. Use tongs or salad spoons to toss the salad together, and place into a serving dish.
- Allow the salad to sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature before topping with the basil and prosciutto. Serve immediately and enjoy!