Panzanella is served in Tuscany all summer long. It’s a meal in itself on a hot summer day and we can’t think of a better way to use the bounty of local produce.
The substance of the salad comes from grilled bread which is tossed with lots of grilled garden vegetables and traditional Tuscan flavors of green olive oil, capers, black olives and Balsamic vinegar. The girls like serving it in hollowed out red and yellow peppers just because it looks so pretty! This is one of the best ways to eat your grilled veggies!
Grilled Panzanella a.k.a. Italian Bread Salad with Summer Vegetables
Serving Size – 6 people
4 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and cut into ¾-inch dice
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and cut on a sharp diagonal into ¼-inch thick slices
4 small garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons drained capers
½ cup imported black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1 cups best-quality extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing veggies
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 long, thin eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 large portobello mushrooms
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
4 1-inch slices day-old peasant bread, cut from a round loaf
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat
In a large mixing bowl toss tomatoes cucumber, garlic, pine nuts, capers, olives and basil together with1 cup of olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile toss the zucchini, eggplant, peppers and onion together with olive oil. Brush the remaining oil lightly over both sides of the mushrooms, onion slices and sliced bread. Season with salt. Place the vegetables on the cooking grate, turning to sear all over, until crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set side. Place bread on the cooking grate and grill on both sides until golden, 1½ to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the vegetables and bread to a cutting board and chop all into chunks. Combine with the tomato mixture, tossing well, and adjust seasoning to suit. Serve warm or at room temperature.