If you love nothing more than fresh tomato bruschetta on a summer day, then you’re going to absolutely fall head-over-heels for this Panzanella-style lettuce salad.
It’s bursting with bruschetta flavors (those marinated tomatoes!), with crisp, crunchy bread, and lots of basil. The flavors that we’ve transposed onto burrata flatbread pizza, too, because the combination is *the best*.
This popular green salad recipe comes together in just 15 minutes. Serve it as a light dinner (al fresco, if you know what’s good for you) or enjoy it as a side dish to a larger meal. Either way, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the fresh flavors!
What is Bruschetta?
If you’re new to the glorious world of bruschetta, welcome. Be sure to read all about this appetizer – and what it really is in Italy – in my balsamic bruschetta recipe post.
But a quick overview, in the United States, bruschetta is typically the appetizer or snack consisting of pieces of grilled or toasted bread (crostini) topped with an irresistible mixture of tomato and basil.
What You’ll Need
This salad comes together so quickly with simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Croutons or hearty bread to make them. An especially good way to use up day-old bread!
- Tomatoes – it’s so, so, so important to use the freshest ones you can find to make bruschetta! Any variety will work, just note that the juicier they are, the more liquid there will be.
- Basil – this aromatic herb adds a hint of sweet and pepper flavor to the salad. It’s a must-have for bruschetta.
- Garlic – fresh garlic is a must, don’t use minced garlic out of a jar for this recipe, mince that garlic yourself. My favorite garlic press makes this a breeze if you don’t have one already.
- Shallot – slightly sweeter, and not as pungent as a white or red onion, it brings a whole lot of flavor! You can sub with red onion if needed.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – you’ll need some for the tomato marinade and if you’re making homemad crostini/croutons. I recommend using a higher-quality olive oil since it will be a main flavor point.
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar – use the highest quality aged balsamic that you can get your hands on. If it’s on the pricy side, you know it’s legit. I wouldn’t recommend spending more money than needed on ingredients, but this one is worth it. Aged balsamic is thick and syrupy and has a rich, complex sweetness that’s unlike any other.
- Romaine Lettuce – the greens in this salad, although you can mix it up and use a spring greens mix or even arugula.
If you’re looking to add a little something more, I highly recommend adding mozzarella cheese! I like the pearls, which are a small ball shape. Ciliegine is a larger ball that can work if you like bigger pieces, too. And, you can always just dice up some fresh mozzarella.
Shaved parmesan cheese would be delicious as well! Or try feta for a Greek-inspired twist.
If you’re really looking for a yummy, fresh summer addition, I recommend fresh peaches. Dice ’em up, and toss ’em in! Or give cucumber a try.
Let’s Make Bruschetta Salad
The first step to get a jump start is prepping the tomato mixture. Giving it a few minutes to marinate together will make the flavors sing!
Prep the Mixture
Combine the chopped tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic, shallot, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. If you like to save on dishes, do this in the salad bowl you’ll be tossing the entire salad in!
Let them sit for about 5 minutes or so – or while you’re washing the lettuce or making croutons if you haven’t made them already.
I might be biased, but making homemade croutons for this salad – or basically any other salad in existence – is the way to go!
They’re fresh, warm, crisp, and totally customizable.
Dice up some hearty bread in whatever size you prefer. For a more panzanella-type salad, tear chunks or have larger pieces. To make sure you get lots of bread in every bite with a wonderful sop-up-ability, make them smaller.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then bake at 400°F for about 10 minutes until crisp.
Toss it Together
The last thing to do is to toss it all together! The marinate is the dressing and it lightly coats the lettuce and soaks into the croutons for the most delicious combination! Drizzle with more high-quality balsamic vinegar for good measure, and dig in!
This salad goes great with the most gooey 4-cheese grilled cheese (it’s gourmet!) or try it with a super green sandwich.
If you have leftover salad, store it in an airtight container for 1 day. If the croutons are large, they will last without getting too soggy for that period of time. Keep in mind the smaller they are, the faster they will get soggy.
If you know you’ll have leftovers, I recommend storing the tomato mixture separate from the lettuce and croutons, and assembling another mini salad when you’re ready.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe 15-Minute Balsamic Bruschetta Salad
- 1 pint cherry or roma tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup basil, chiffonade or roughly chopped + garnish
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 Tablespoon high-quality balsamic vinegar
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 2 cups croutons, ~ 1/2 baguette, cubed
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- Bruschetta Mix: In a small bowl, or the bowl you'll toss the salad in, stir together tomatoes, basil, garlic, shallot, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Set aside.1 pint cherry or roma tomatoes, ½ cup basil, 3-4 garlic cloves, 1 small shallot, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 2 Tablespoon high-quality balsamic vinegar, Salt and Pepper
- Croutons: If making your own croutons (recommended!), preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together bread cubes in a drizzle of olive oil and coat with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, tossing halfway in between until golden brown and crispy.
- In a large bowl, toss together chopped lettuce, bruschetta mixture (and all the juices!), and croutons. Drizzle with more balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil as desired.2 cups croutons, 1 head romaine lettuce
By the Way…
This recipe is part of our collection of green salad recipes. Check it out!