Monday, July 14, 2014

Grilled Summer Panzanella (Bread Salad)

In the summer, we love using our grill.  The added punch of flavor from the flames can't be matched & anytime we can get away with quick, simple meals on weeknights, we take it.  Both of us work traditional business hours right now, so getting dinner on the table after a long day at the office is quite an accomplishment.  That's why I love this Panzanella so much.

Have you ever tried 'bread salad' before?  I was new to this meal too, but it's worth trying I promise.  I had seen a version on Kelsey Nixon's show on the Cooking Channel, Kitchen Essentials, that looked really tasty, but I was a little sceptical.  Would it be a soggy, mushy mess?  Would it really get better as it sits, or is it an 'eat it right now' kinda dish?  My love of all food Italian won & I decided to try a variation of my own using our favorite summer veggies & the fresh herbs we had on hand.

Y'all, this salad was so tasty & all my fears were completely unfounded!  It was super fresh, with just enough cheesy goodness & the bread was perfectly crusty AND chewy.  The basil & cilantro blended so well together for the vinaigrette too, with the lemon juice, it made a perfectly bright dressing. It'd also work really well with parsley if cilantro isn't your thing.  It's all I could ever want in a summertime dish.  The leftovers we had for lunch the next day were even better; there were no soggy bites of bread to be had!

This salad is so versatile; you can literally use any veggies you'd like & any mix of herbs for the vinaigrette.  It's a great 'end of the week' meal to use up all those leftover bits of veggies from other dishes too.  I love this mix of corn, red onion & asparagus though.  Lots of colors & the flavors go so well.  If you do just a little planning ahead by soaking the corn, the whole salad comes together in just a few minutes!

Grilled Summer Panzanella (Bread Salad)

1 loaf ciabatta or your favorite type of bread, stale bread works very well
2 ears corn, shucked & soaked in water for 30 minutes or so
1 red onion, cut into thick slices
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Fresh Mozzarella, I prefer the 'pearls' that are bite size
Cherry Tomatoes, halved or quartered
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

For Vinaigrette

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Basil, 1 large bunch, trimmed
Cilantro, a small handful
Juice of 1 Lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cube your loaf of bread & toss lightly in olive oil, salt & pepper.  Cut red onion into thick slices and trim asparagus.  Grill corn, onion & asparagus to your liking.  We like to spritz everything with a decent spray of olive oil & season it with a little salt & pepper before placing it on the grill.  While the veggies are grilling, place cubed bread onto baking sheet & bake in oven for 5 minutes or so.  You want the bread to be a little brown on the edges, but not completely toasted.  Drain water from fresh mozzarella & cut into pieces if necessary.  Halve cherry tomatoes.  Make vinaigrette by placing juice of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, basil & cilantro into a food processor.  While pulsing, drizzle in olive oil until it comes together & is pleasant to taste (usually I end up using at least 1/4 - 1/3 cup.)

Once the veggies come off the grill & are cool enough to handle (please be careful!) cut onion & asparagus into bite size pieces & remove corn from cob, placing it all into a large bowl.  Add in bread, mozzarella & toss everything with the vinaigrette.

Serves 4.       

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