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Grilled Pesto Panzanella

Grilled Pesto Panzanella

hen it comes to eating in the summer, it is all about fresh produce, bright flavors, and grilling everything possible. This salad definitely covers those bases. Also, if croutons are your favorite part of a salad, then this is the salad you have been waiting for. A panzanella is an Italian salad traditionally made with lots of salvaged stale bread and vegetables, especially tomatoes. Yes, bread salad is a thing. And it’s awesome. 

nstead of a vinaigrette for this salad, I chose to make it extra summery and bright by dressing it with fresh pesto. If you have never made pesto before, fear not. Yes you can use store bought, but pesto is one of the easiest and most flavorful sauces/condiments I know of. Just throw the ingredients into a food processor, or even a blender, and blend until it is smooth. Instant, amazing flavor to add to a million foods for exponential deliciousness. Pesto is usually made with basil, but you can really make it with any herbs. I used what I had growing, some basil and mint, but any combo of herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, or mint will work just fine.

ere I used grape tomatoes, red pepper, and baby summer squash from my little garden. They were excellent together, but you can use other summer produce too like zucchini, broccoli, green beans, corn, and eggplant. Grilling the veggies and bread adds a ton of flavor and dimension to this otherwise fresh salad. The bread in a panzanella is usually just toasted in a pan or the oven, but grilling the bread takes this salad to a different level.

Yes, you can use white and/or sliced bread, but a whole grain rustic loaf is really the way to go I think. Thick slices of bread grill nicely and result in nice big chunks of crusty, golden bread cubes. Whole grain bread is more nutritious than white because it has more fiber, protein, vitamins, and phytochemicals. This grilled pesto panzanella would make a great partner to some grilled chicken or fish for a nutritious, balanced meal. I hope you give it a try and enjoy some easy summer cooking!

rilled Pesto Panzanella
Makes 2-4 servings, depending on serving size
 
Pesto
1 cup lightly packed fresh herbs like basil and mint
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
1 tbs. grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
2 tbs. walnuts or another nut, toasted for more flavor
1 tbs. water
salt and pepper to taste
 
4-5 slices of whole wheat bread, cut about 3/4” thick
1 red bell pepper, cut into 3-4 flat pieces
2 baby or 1 medium summer squash, halved if using a larger squash
½ cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
2 cups arugula or other lettuce
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan or pecorino cheese for garnish
 
Combine all the pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. You may need to push the mixture back down a few times to get evenly blended. Set aside when done.
 
Lightly coat the veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle olive oil onto each side of the bread and rub in for an even coating. Season with salt and pepper as you like.
 
Place veggies and bread on a hot grill and cook until some toasty char develops. Make sure to turn them to prevent burning, and cook about 6-10 minutes in total depending on the grill.
 
Cut veggies into bite size pieces and cut bread into cubes. Toss with the tomatoes and arugula. Dress with the pesto and garnish with some parm or pecorino shavings if you like. Enjoy!

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