In some areas of the country, summer has been quite the mixed bag. Very hot days, but also very cold and rainy days. For us it has just been plain hot and unbearable with very little rain. Summer in Arizona is unfortunately not letting up for probably another couple of months. It will hold a firm grip on us, making us wish for cooler temperatures, even if it just means to dip below 100 degrees F. Yes, most of us Arizonians should be used to it, but are fed up with this terrible heat by early August. Unfortunately, we forget year after year about the temperatures when we are sitting outside enjoying a BBQ-ed meal in January while the rest of the country is freezing.
Since summer is still here to stay for at least a while longer, I'm still on the hunt for great salad recipes to expand my repertoire. This one comes courtesy of "Cuisine at Home" yet again. I really like their approach to recipes which are fairly simple, but wonderful tasting, and most of my magazines from them are covered in sticky notes for dishes to try. Today's post had been on my to-do list for a while, and last weekend I finally got around to it. Panzanella Salad is an Italian dish that is a bread salad. It varies widely depending upon region and ingredients available, however, day old bread is always included. It is also important to use a sturdy bread when making this dish. It is best to use a chewy, rustic bread that can withstand being tossed with a vinaigrette, otherwise your bread will get way too mushy. Ripe, juicy tomatoes are another must, and while any tomato will work, the sweetness of cocktail or grape tomatoes seem to harmonize best with this salad. Cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives, fresh mozzarella and basil round out this dish.
This is a fantastic salad to serve along side any kind of meat. We had pork chops with it, but steak or chicken would be wonderful as well. Since the bread is grilled on the BBQ, grilling the meat is a logical choice and with that you can leave the stove off, which is always a plus with this heat. We all really enjoyed this unique salad. It incorporated all of our favorite ingredients and so it was kind of a given that we liked it, but nonetheless, I'm surprised by the simplicity of certain recipes that just "wow" you. This is another recipe I'm keeping, and will be making over and over again!
Grilled Panzanella Salad
(adapted from "Cuisine at Home")
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 a baguette or ciabatta bread, halved lengthwise and brushed with olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Preheat grill to medium-high. Whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper together; set aside.
Toss vegetables, mozzarella, olives, and basil together in a bowl.
Grill bread, cut side down, until golden, 2-3 minutes, then rub with the garlic cloves. Slice bread into cubes, add to vegetables, and toss with vinaigrette.