Grilled Panzanella (Tomato & Bread Salad)
SEPTEMBER! How the?!
See, my little guy was ill for a couple weeks in August, first with some baby virus (roseola, curious moms), with strep throat hot on its heels – then I caught the latter, and before I knew it August had passed and we had spent most of it laid out on the sofa in the throws of fever.
Everyone’s all better now, and I guess it’s time to take a deep breath, strategically plot my cooking moves for the last few weeks of peach/berry/tomato/cherry season, and accept that summer is winding down. But not over!
This salad shouts IT’S STILL SUMMER from the rooftops – it’s so vibrant and fresh, with minimal ingredients and mere seconds spent in preparation. The flavours are incredibly vibrant and balanced. Trust me, although it may technically serve four, you will want to eat the whole bowl. And that’s ok, because it’s light, summer fare.
I always order the panzanella salad at a particular Italian restaurant we frequent – it features big chunks of torn bread (toasted into croutons), juicy fresh tomatoes, and creamy burrata. The bread soaks up the tangy vinaigrette, as well as the juices from the tomatoes. I just love it.
My version employs the grill, which adds a wonderful charring to the bread. I use herb foccacia instead of crusty french bread, which I really think takes it to another level, as it bears so much flavour on its own. But use whatever fresh loaf you like.
I use only enough vinegar in the dressing to cut the richness of the olive oil – since the tomatoes add their own acidity, too.
Creamy dollops of mascarpone add sweet richness to the salad – I used it simply because I had it in my fridge to finish up, but it was so perfect it will be my new go-to. (You can substitute ricotta, but you’ll lose the amazing luxe creaminess, or burrata, which can be a bit of a splurge, but is soooo worth it.)
Hope you all had a wonderful labour day weekend, and are easing into September rituals while still enjoying the remains of the season. What are are you cooking to hang onto the last few weeks of summer?
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ? tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 250 grams (9 ounces) foccacia bread, torn in 1 1/2″ chunks
- 3 medium heirloom tomatoes chopped in ¾” chunks (yields about 3 cups)
- handful of torn basil leaves
- 2 oz mascarpone
In a large serving bowl, whisk olive oil with vinegar, salt and pepper. Grill (or broil) bread over high heat until lightly toasted and charred at edges, about 2 minutes (keep an eye on it). Add bread and tomatoes to bowl, tossing to coat with the vinaigrette; let stand 10 minutes for the tomatoes to release their juices and for the bread to absorb them.
Drop spoonfuls of mascarpone onto the salad and gently toss. Scatter with basil leaves and toss again.