April 20, 2011

Panzanella Salad

Does picking up fresh produce and throwing it on the grill for a meal excite you as much as it does me? The fruits, the veggies, the sunshine, the long days—springtime makes my heart happy. Remembering what fun the grill and I had with chicken breasts (topped with mango salsa!) and zucchini last week, I was overcome with an urge to grill something fresh ASAP.

What came to mind for a new recipe experiment? This grilled tomato-bread salad I had stared at many a times on the Southern Living website. Between the crusted fresh bread and the simple and scrumptious Mediterranean combo of tomatoes, onion, fresh basil, and olives, we decided eating this meal in the sunshine was about 56 times better than any restaurant experience. If only I could make lunch at home and eat in the backyard with special people in sunshine everyday…

Panzanella Salad
Adapted from Southern Living

1 ciabatta or Italian bread loaf
12 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise; or 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced in quarters
1 red onion, cut into large wedges
About 5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cooked shrimp, optional
1/2 cucumber, halved and sliced
½ cup whole black olives, sliced in half
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh basil
½ cup feta cheese, optional

Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high). Cut bread loaf into 1-2-inch thick slices; cut slices in half, if desired. Brush bread with olive oil.

Drizzle tomatoes and onion with 2 Tbsp. oil, tossing to coat. Grill tomatoes and onion, covered with grill lid, over 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly charred.

Coarsely chop grilled tomatoes and onion, and place in a medium bowl. Add shrimp (optional), cucumber, olives, red wine vinegar, and garlic.

Brush bread slices with remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Grill, without grill lid, over 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and toasted.

Place grilled bread slices on individual serving plates; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with basil and feta. Enjoy.

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