Panzanella has always been a summer favorite in our household. Originating from Tuscany, panzanella is a bread and tomato salad, made with stale or toasted bread, and tossed with myriad combinations of bell peppers, olives, cucumbers, anchovies, capers, herbs, etc. It is often called a “left-over” salad because it can be made with the various ingredients you have on hand. Nothing beats cubes of hearty bread soaked in vinaigrette with fresh vegetables
For a Labor Day bbq, I made this grilled panzanella and the flavors were outstanding.
serves 8 – 10
1 loaf day-old ciabatta bread, thick crust removed
5 medium, ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, cut in large chunks
2 orange bell peppers, cut lengthwise off the core
1 bulb fennel, tops removed, halved (reserve fronds for garnish)
1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
5 oz fresh mozzarella, drained, cut in cubes
Zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, pressed
salt and fresh pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsely, chopped
12 basil leaves, chiffonade
2 tblsp drained capers
1. Prepare your grill over medium heat. Brush the peppers, fennel, onion, and zucchini with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until tender and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from grill. Place pepper slices in a covered container to loosen the skins. After 10 minutes, remove the skins with your fingers, slice into strips. Once cool, chop zucchini into half moons, slice fennel, and chop onions.
2. Meanwhile, halve the ciabatta lengthwise and brush lightly with olive oil. Grill until brown and crisp, turning occasionally. Let cool, then cut into large cubes.
3. In a very large bowl, add lemon zest, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, and in a slow steady stream, whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the fresh herbs and capers.
4. Very gently toss all of the grilled vegetables, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and cubes of bread in the dressing. Transfer to a serving bowl and let stand 20 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve room temperature.