Recipe by Kelsey Nixon • Photo by Sara Remington
After you make your first bread salad, you will never look back. The simple method of toasting the bread to get it crispy enough to then soak up a vibrant vinaigrette results in so much flavor. As the seasons change throughout the year, I like customizing the panzanella to highlight what is freshest at the market. Consider roasting the vegetables or serving them raw in this salad, too. The end result is always colorful and so easy to put together.
Cooking spray (optional)
1 loaf French bread, cut on an angle into 1-inch-thick slices
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 yellow squash, cut on an angle into ¾-inch-thick slices
1 small zucchini, cut on an angle into ¾-inch-thick slices
1 orange bell pepper, cut into quarters
8 ounces heirloom cherry tomatoes
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch dice
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. If using an outdoor grill, coat a grill basket with cooking spray and put it on the grill.
2. Brush both sides of the bread with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. When cool enough to handle, cut or tear into 1-inch cubes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the squash, zucchini, and bell pepper. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and black pepper, and toss to coat. Grill, flipping once, until the vegetables have grill marks and are softened and caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the squash, zucchini, and pepper into 1-inch pieces and transfer to another large bowl. Add the tomatoes to the first bowl, drizzle with a little more oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill (if outdoors, use the grill basket) and cook until charred and caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the grilled vegetables.
4. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, and garlic. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the ½ cup of oil and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the toasted bread and mozzarella to the bowl of vegetables. Drizzle in the vinaigrette, add the torn basil leaves, and toss well. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to develop.
Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon (Clarkson Potter)