Hello! I hope everyone is well and enjoying the summer. The heatwave earlier this month reminded me that we are most certainly in the “don’t-turn-on-the-oven!” days of the season (in fact, PLEASE don’t even turn on the stove!), causing the inexorable and daily-asked question, “What’s for dinner?” to be an even more insoluble weekday annoyance. Heavy sigh.
Well, my friends, fortunately there is Grilled Panzanella. A Tuscan dish, Panzanella typically showcases summer’s vegetal bounty, and is my absolute favorite salad of all the salads in the salad-sphere. Grilling the vegetables keeps your house cool(er), and is so deceptively simple, boasting BIG flavor and, my ever-sought-after, lunch-leftovers. I have tweaked it to my own taste using Deb Perelman’s recipe as a jumping-off point, so feel free to tailor it to your personal preferences as well. I like charring a spicy chili pepper to add to the veggies, along with (un-grilled) cherry tomatoes scattered in. Deb calls for capers, which I don’t love, but definitely throw some in if that’s your thing.
As most of the recipes shared here, this one is more inspiration than instruction, and is relaxed in composition, allowing plenty of room for your own creativity and cooking style. The best part is, it is prepared entirely on the grill, staying true to my above-mentioned cooking rule of late summer. Even the croutons are made out there! Grilling the bread and then tearing it into the finished salad adds a sublime smokiness reminiscent of the wood-fired ovens of yore.
This Panzanella is a true crowd-pleaser, and a cookout showstopper, pairing beautifully with chicken and fish — both grillable!! And further, you sacrifice absolutely nothing here in the way of flavor and heft when feeding friends and family who stick to a plant-based diet (though, seriously, who can resist fresh mozzarella?!).
Savor. Every. Bite. And although I did mention leftovers, I make no guarantees on this one.
Keep well, and keep on cooking.
4 (or more) 1-inch slices ciabatta-style bread (grilled to desired doneness and torn or cubed)
2 or 3 large red bell peppers, whole (char, remove from grill, cover for 15 minutes, peel and cut up)
1 jalapeño pepper (same as for red peppers above)
1 red onion, peeled and cut into thick wedges (use a grill basket to prevent them from falling through the grates)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 fresh garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil
6 oz. fresh mozzarella torn into bite-sized pieces
Lots of cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh herbs (I like a combination of basil and chives)
Place grilled veggies and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with a healthy glug of the oil. Whisk the vinegar, garlic, sugar and oil together in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetables. Add the mozzarella and croutons. Salt and pepper to taste.