Grilled Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad is one of my favorite summer salads. You can make this any time of the year with bread that has been toasted in the oven, but when it's summer and you can grill the bread it adds flavor and grill marks for added beauty points. The great thing about this salad is that it can sit for longer than most salads - it just gets better as the bread absorbs the vinaigrette.

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Bread for Panzanella Salad

The first step in making this grilled panzanella salad is, of course, to grill the bread. I like a hearty Italian loaf for this salad, but you could use baguette or levain bread too. You could even use your own No Knead Bread if you happen to have some leftover (I know… what am I thinking!). Be sure to brush the bread liberally with olive oil before grilling it on an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan. You want the bread to get nice and toasty, but still have some moisture inside. It’s also a great opportunity for you to practice your grill marks (bread is much cheaper than steak!).

Grilled bread with some pieces torn.

Tearing the bread is much easier if the bread is still warm, so take advantage of that but don’t burn your fingers. You can do this step ahead of time and have it ready to toss with the vegetables before serving.

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Grilled bread, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, red onion, basil and dressing on a wooden table.

Vegetables in Panzanella Salad

The vegetables can really be whatever you’d like them to be, but tomatoes are a must. Use the ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can find. Their moisture will get absorbed by the bread. I prefer English cucumber, but you can use a regular cucumber – just scoop the seeds out before slicing it into chunks. If you don’t like the bright prominent flavor of red onions, try soaking the sliced onions in some water for about 20 minutes before draining, drying and then adding to the salad. That will tame their flavor a little.

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A large wooden bowl with grilled panzanella salad and two serving tools on a white wooden table.

Once all the ingredients are tossed together, just give the salad a few minutes to let the ingredients get to know each other. This will allow the crispy grilled bread to absorb some of the flavors of the dressing and soften just a little. You still want there to be some crunch to the salad, but no need for anyone to have a hard time eating this!

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Two salad servers lifting grilled panzanella salad out of the bowl.

What to Serve with Panzanella Salad

Grilled Panzanella Salad can be the main meal at an outdoor (or indoor) summer gathering OR it can be a side dish. You really can serve it with just about anything, but it goes nicely with Marinated Chicken Breasts, some BBQ Ribs, a nice juicy Grilled Ribeye Steak or even Pan Roasted Salmon. It’s incredibly satisfying and oh-so-tasty. It’s a nice change from your regular salad greens, that’s for sure!

 

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Grilled Panzanella Salad

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 5 m
  • Sitting Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 35 m
  • Servings:
    8

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf rustic Italian bread preferably one day old
  • 3 tomatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 orange pepper large dice
  • ½ red onion sliced
  • 1 English cucumber halved and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers rinsed
  • cup fresh basil
  • 8 ounces ricotta salata cheese optional
Red Wine Vinaigrette :
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¾ cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the outdoor grill for at least 10 minutes or pre-heat the stovetop grill pan over medium-high to high heat. Cut the bread into 1-inch thick slices. Generously brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Grill the bread, getting good grill marks on both sides and set the grilled bread aside.
  2. Make the dressing. Whisk the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly pour the olive oil into the vinegar mixture and whisk until the dressing comes together and thickens. Stir in the fresh parsley.
  3. Combine the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cucumbers in a large bowl.
  4. While the bread is still warm but not too hot for your fingers, tear it into large pieces and add them to the vegetables. Drizzle the dressing over the top, add the capers and toss everything together to coat the bread. Stir in the basil and crumbled ricotta salata (if using). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Let the Panzanella salad sit for 10 minutes to allow the bread cubes to absorb the dressing and then serve.
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Comments (15)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    Love you, love your recipes, love you precious dogs, love seeing them in your emails, look forward to your emails, all the good food ideas and all your instructions.. love hearing about your vacations, pics occasionally from your travels. Miss seeing you on the Q….. good health and good luck to you..

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my! This was yummy! Where has this been all my life?! Thanks for sharing it. Love your emails and recipes! Always love the puppies!

  3. This looks yummy and can’t wait to try it! like previous replies, I followed and enjoyed you for years on QVC and can’t count the appliances I purchased because of you! Congrats on your independent venture and wish you tons of success! And like everyone else love the pics and updates about your dogs!

  4. 5 stars
    This is a salad I ate in my youth. My Grandparents were from Italy. It only had tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and olive oil and vinegar and parsley. I recall the bread being wet with water and then you would squeeze out the excess. It was delicious. We did have grilled bread done on the stove, no grills back then, it was toasted with grill marks on a very old toaster stand that probably came from Italy. Either way this is a tasty salad.

  5. 5 stars
    Meredith I had this for lunch yesterday. It was delicious. Thank you for everything you do for all of us. I miss you on the Q. David teared up the last day you were on his show and he had to announce that you were leaving. It was sad for all of us. At least you are here to share all of your knowledge.

  6. I’m apparently not reading the instructions properly because I can’t see where the 3h 20m prep time comes in. Could you please enlighten me? Thank you.

  7. Could you explain or describe the ricotta salata? I have never heard of it and don’t remember seeing it in stores. Thank you and I too enjoy following you on Instagram.

    1. Hi there. Ricotta salata and ricotta cheese are both made from sheep’s milk. The difference is that ricotta is fresh and loose (eaten with a spoon), whereas ricotta salata is salted (hence the “salata”), shaped into a wheel and aged. It has a firmer texture that crumbles nicely. For this recipe, if you can’t find ricotta salata, try some firm feta cheese.

  8. 4 stars
    As a vegetarian who doesnt like “regular” salads, I try to find non lettuce versions, this was good! however, I would have appreciated more instruction on how to grill bread- I totally burnt the whole first loaf! and I added balsamic for a touch of sweetness.

  9. 5 stars
    Made the Panzanella Salad fir a gathering!! Everyone absolutely loved it!!! The flavor was amazing!! Many asked for recipe…of course I told them to follow the Blue Jean Chef on Facebook!! Thank you Meredith!!

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