It's easy enough to fall in love with tomato and bread salads, but when sausage is added? You'll be obsessed with this Sausage Panzanella salad this summer!
(This recipe for Sausage Panzanella was originally published in January 2011, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
If I had my way, I'd eat juicy red tomatoes and fresh aromatic basil all summer long. OK fine, maybe with some nice crusty bread. And/or mozzarella. And/or good olive oil and vinegar. But as long as I have fresh tomatoes and basil, I'm a happy camper.
While I am perfectly happy eating a traditional panzanella salad for dinner, I know lots of people would like a little protein added in. And some people don't consider a dinner a dinner without meat. Enter sausage panzanella salad.
This summer salad lets you get your fill of fresh tomatoes and basil with a healthy dose of carbs and sausage. I highly doubt you'll hear any complaints if you serve this for dinner.
Ingredients in Salad
My favorite thing about this sausage panzanella is that it's packed with simple, fresh ingredients. If you don't want to go to a grocery store, you can probably find almost all of these items at your local farmer's market (or already in your pantry).
- Fresh tomatoes
- Red onion
- Salt and pepper
- Italian bread
- Olive oil
- Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
- Red wine vinegar
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil
Sausage Panzanella Salad Recipe
Panzanella salads are pretty simple to make and though you'll need to toast your bread and cook your sausage on the stovetop, you won't have to turn your oven on at all. Perfect for a hot summer day!
To make, chop the tomatoes to whatever size you like. I like to keep them a little bit bigger, but still bite-sized.
Combine the tomatoes, red onion, and garlic in a large bowl.
Combine tomatoes, red onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine. Let rest for about 15 minutes so the flavors can marry. Here comes the bride...
While the flavors are marinating, toast up your bread. Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil (using about 2 Tbsp of the olive oil).
Toast in grill pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes (can also use regular pan or toast on grill).
Flip the bread and cover the toasted side with half of the parmesan cheese. Let toast for another 2 minutes, until cheese starts to melt.
Remove from grill and let cool before cutting into bite-sized cubes.
Now, pierce sausage with a fork or knife and cook it over medium on grill pan until cooked through. Let cool slightly before slicing.
You can use either sweet or spicy Italian sausage, but I almost always choose spicy. I think it adds a nice kick to an otherwise mild salad.
Add red wine vinegar, remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, basil, sliced sausage, and bread cubes into tomato mixture and toss to combine.
Don't you just want to dive into this bowl of sausage panzanella?!
Serve on plates or in bowls and top with the remaining parmesan.
The flavors are obviously all perfect together and I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the summer.
While I'm perfectly happy eating sausage panzanella salad as a meal, you could also serve this as a side dish to any number of summer entrees.
I highly recommend eating this outside, while enjoying the hot evening air and the setting sun. Because summer really is too fleeting and fresh tomatoes and basil plants on your windowsill won't last forever. Sob.
But if you need more ways to use those fresh tomatoes, you should also try this burrata caprese!
For anyone asking, "doesn't the bread get soggy in panzanella salad?" Well, since you're toasting the bread, it does retain a little crusty crunch. Of course, if you keep this salad for leftovers, the bread will certainly be soggy by the next day. But that isn't a problem with me.
In addition to the parmesan cheese toasted into it, the bread soaks up some of the tomato juices, as well as the olive oil and vinegar and tastes just heavenly, no matter its consistency.
I love everything about this sausage panzanella salad!
When it's 90 degrees out and tomatoes and basil are at their freshest, I'm pretty sure I could happily eat panzanella for dinner every night. Luckily, there are a million variations on it and always room to try something new.
What's your favorite summer entree salad?
For another fun twist on panzanella, try my Watermelon Panzanella Salad. And for another delicious summer salad option, try my Steak and Strawberry Salad. I also can't wait to try this Peach Salad with Burrata and Basil from Sip and Spice!
- 3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 5 slices Italian bread (about 1" thick)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 links Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh bail leaves, chiffonaded
- Combine tomatoes, red onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine. Let rest for about 15 minutes.
- Brush both sides of bread slices with about 2 Tbsp olive oil. Toast in grill pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes (can also use regular pan or toast on grill). Flip the bread and cover the toasted side with half of the parmesan cheese. Let toast for another 2 minutes, until cheese starts to melt. Remove from grill and let cool before cutting into bite-sized cubes.
- Pierce sausage with a fork or knife and cook it over medium on grill pan until cooked through. Let cool slightly before slicing.
- Add red wine vinegar, remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, basil, sliced sausage, and bread cubes into tomato mixture and toss to combine.
- Serve with remaining parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.