This recipe first appeared in Susie Middleton's column, Fresh from the Farm. 

I learned to combine tomatoes and grilled bread in a salad when I was a cook many years ago at Al Forno restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. Every summer since, some variation on panzanella has been one of my favorite destinations for beefsteak tomatoes. Add cucumbers, olives, or mint for a different take.

Serves 8

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons good-quality sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh capers
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion, julienned
  • 8 1-inch-thick slices ciabatta or other airy artisan bread
  • 2 1/4 pounds ripe, juicy beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces  
  • 1/2 cup (lightly packed) small whole fresh basil leaves or large leaves, torn into pieces


  1. In a large bowl, combine the 4 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, the garlic, the sun-dried tomatoes, and the capers. Add a few big pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper and stir well. Add the red onions and stir again. 
  2. Heat a gas grill to medium or a broiler to high. Brush the bread generously with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Just before grilling or toasting your bread, go ahead and add the tomatoes to the oil mixture and toss gently. (If the tomatoes are very ripe, you don’t want to let them sit in the dressing for much longer than 10 minutes.)
  4. Put the bread slices directly on the grill grate or a few inches under the broiler element and cook until a light golden brown on the first side, about 1 minute. Flip and cook for 1 minute more until the other side is golden. Transfer the bread to a cutting board and cut into 3/4-inch cubes.
  5. Add the bread cubes and half of the basil to the bowl of tomatoes and toss gently until well-combined. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing once or twice, to let the bread absorb some of the tomato juices. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if you like.
  6. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining basil.