Tuscan Pesto Panzanella Salad

by Chrissy

I have been running a lot lately, training for the half marathon in August that I somehow talked myself into doing….or was brainwashed into doing it [eh hem, you know who you are]. With that said, I have been a hungry hungry hippo these days.


Here is how we came upon this idea of Pesto Panzanella.


Lauren and I were both craving pesto. But didn’t want pasta. But still wanted pesto, for sure. So we thought pesto pizza is always good. Then we thought, wait a minute… Panzanella! Boom. A miracle was born.


Oh and don’t fret, if your heart just skipped a beat at the sound of “pesto pizza”, we will be making that soon with the left over pesto. Two birds with one stone? I think so.


The crispy garlic baked cubes of bread both add great texture to this dish and help to soak up the flavor of the pesto. It’s like a deconstructed panini, and who doesn’t love a panini?? (except for this man with whom we serve the homeless. Absolutely shocked when we heard this.)


If you have gotten used to the boring lettuce salad, and don’t mind a few extra carbs, this recipe should be next up to bat! Also, it will feed an army. Especially if you add some some everything-seasoned grilled chicken on the side, for extra protein. Not to mention it’s great with the pesto.


The Preparation:


Toss cubes of bread with olive oil and garlic, and lay out on a baking sheet to bake for about 15 minutes. Lay out to cool for a bit before tossing in the salad.


Meanwhile, chop, slice, and dice the veggies, cheese and prosciutto.


Make the pesto. Nom nom nom. So tasty, it’s almost sinful.


Once the bread has somewhat cooled, toss in a big bowl with all the goodies and that zesty homemade pesto. (here is another great pesto recipe, that would be just delightful on this salad)

Time to devour the fruits of our labor. Buon appetito!


Tuscan Pesto Panzanella Salad
Serves 8


1 loaf TJ’s flaxseed ciabatta bread (about 1 lb.)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, thinly sliced with a peeler

3 green onions, chopped

2 cups cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14 oz.) can of artichoke hearts (in water), drained and quartered

1 cup of roasted red peppers, (you can roast and peel your own, or buy them jarred, like we did)

1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

4 slices of prosciutto, diced or torn

1/4 cup pesto (see recipe below) salt and pepper, to taste

Basil, chiffonade (leaves rolled and cut in thin strips) for garnish


*Little Yellow Note: it’s really simple to sub in any ingredients if your palate preferred others. We won’t be offended :)


Walnut Pesto

Makes about 1 cup of pesto

2 cups packed basil leaves (approx. 2 oz/1 bunch)

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper, to taste



Preheat oven to 400.  Cut the ciabatta bread into cubes, leaving the crust on.  In a large bowl, mix it with the 1/4 cup olive oil and minced garlic, until fully covered.  Evenly, lay the bread cubes out on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, stirring on occasion.  Set aside to cool.

Make the pesto:  in a food processor (or a good blender, I suppose) combine all of the ingredients and blend, streaming in the olive oil, until the consistency is moist, and all the olive oil is incorporated.

Sauté green onions in a teaspoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes, to make them tender and flavorful. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bread cubes, roasted red peppers, sautéed green onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, and parmesan shavings.  Mix in the pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh basil.

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,



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11 Responses to “Tuscan Pesto Panzanella Salad”

  1. This looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I too love pesto. I think I like it even better than marinara sauce for pasta. Good job, girls!

  2. I am awed by this incredible salad! It looks so good and I am bookmarking and making this asap!

  3. Now THAT is a salad! I’m a pesto fiend, so I know I would love this salad, aka I need to make it soon! Thanks Chrissy. Have a great weekend. :)

  4. Ooo!! Salad with mostly bread? Yes please! This looks very refreshing to me! Love it!
    Good luck on your race!

  5. Chrissy

    Thanks, Joanna! I’ll need all the luck that I can get… and about 50 more servings of this! =)

  6. Oh man this looks delicious! I love panzanella but I’ve never thought of making it at home…I’m definitely book marking this recipe. You can never go wrong with pesto 😉

    So exciting you’re running a half in August! Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be great :)

  7. It looks incredible! Panzanella salad is one of my all time favorites! Treating the bread well is the secret and you certainly nailed it! Really, really beautiful recipe, pics…everything!

  8. Oh gracious this looks amazing! So many flavors and textures going on. What a great salad!

  9. this will be great over the summer! I just ran a 1/2 marathon this morning….good luck, you’ll do awesome! Such a great feeling

  10. I love Panzanella Salad! Boom Shakalaka, thanks for reminding me. Had some fantastic stuff in Tuscany as a matter of fact, but I digress, I don’t mean to brag – just saying that it was fantastic, that’s all. i love the step-by-step photos of the process, that’s hard work!

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