Chili Pepper Madness

September 15, 2017

Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers

Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers – Recipe Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers – Recipe

This stunning Italian panzanella salad recipe belongs in every kitchen with toasted bread, juicy heirloom tomatoes, cheeses, sweet vinegar, soppressata, lightly pickled chili peppers and so much more.

Another recipe coming at you that has been directly inspired by our exploding garden harvest. Seriously, when you have gargantuan heirloom tomatoes and loads of chili peppers producing like crazy, you want to make sure you can consume as many of them fresh as you can.

I have no problem with this! This is a big part of why we enjoy gardening. Eating all those amazing peppers and tomatoes!

If you're looking for recipes to get the most out of that bountiful harvest, you can't go wrong with a classic Italian recipe - Panzanella Salad. Yes!

Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers – Recipe

It is a Tuscan recipe, traditionally made with bread soaked in dressing, anchovies and chopped vegetables. I've varied things up a little bit with a heavy focus on my my own garden vegetables, as well as other Italian ingredients that we personally prefer, like slices of Italian salami, soppressata, one of our favorite cured meats of all time, as well as shaved Parmesan cheese.

I've also included a Spanish cheese, Manchego, because we LOVE that cheese and I wanted to include a subtle flavor element to contrast with, yet compliment, the Parmesan.


Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers – Recipe

Look as all those gorgeous tomatoes, bursting with their juices. There is nothing like being able to walk down to your own garden and plucking them straight from the vine.

I've also included an element not typically included in traditional Italian panzanella salads - pickled chili peppers. I mean, OF COURSE I would do such a thing. I like the additional crunch the peppers bring, along with the slightly sour notes from the quick pickling, which goes along with the red wine vinegar that makes up the salad dressing.

Make sure you do your own quick pickling of the peppers. Don't use store bought pickled peppers, which tend to be softer. What you're looking for some of the crunch factor as well as the sweet-sour notes you'll get with this particular method. SO much better. Trust me.

Give this one a try, my friends, and let me know how you like it. This is one of our favorite evening meals when the harvest is giving us so much.


Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers – Recipe

Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers – Recipe


  • 4 slices sour dough or Italian bread
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 medium sized sweet or mildly spicy chili peppers – I used a sweet Italian pepper, jalapeno pepper and ram’s horn pepper.
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 4 ounces soppressata, sliced
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil + more as needed
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 10-12 large cherry tomatoes
  • Torn basil leaves
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup shaved Manchego cheese

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Cube the bread and spread it over a baking sheet. Bake the bread about 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
  2. Slice the heirloom tomatoes and lightly salt them. Set them into a large colander over a bowl and let the tomatoes sweat and drip about 1/4 cup of their water content into the bowl. Reserve the tomato water.
  3. Spread the tomato slices over a large serving dish to serve as your base.
  4. Slice the chili peppers very thinly and set them into a large pan. Cover with vinegar and heat to low. Add sugar and mustard powder and swirl to dissolve. Cook about 3-4 minutes to give them a light pickling. Cool, drain, and set them into the large bowl.
  5. To the large bowl, add onion, soppressata and toasted bread cubes.
  6. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar with the tomato water. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour tomato-vinaigrette into the large bowl and toss everything. Make sure everything is nice and coated. The bread will absorb the liquid.
  8. Arrange over the top of the sliced heirloom tomatoes.
  9. Heat a small pan to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pan. Cook until the skins blister and char a bit, about 4 minutes or so, turning here and there. Cool and arrange them over the salad.
  10. Top with torn basil and shaved cheeses.

Enjoy! Makes a big bowl. Serves 4-6.

Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Peppers - Recipe

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Michael September 16, 2017 posted by Michael

    I love fresh veggies, especially heirloom tomatoes (though any homegrown tomatoes are much better than the ones in the grocery stores). I've been trying to find a site that tells the average output of a tomato plant, and can't find any. I was wondering what kind of yield you get from your tomato plants?

    REPLY: Michael, you can get about 25 pounds heirloom tomatoes per plant, though it depends on your growing area/zone, etc. I've seen a great yield this year. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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