Creole tomatoes are one of the many reasons that I love summer. They are so vibrant and fresh that I find myself trying to work them into every meal that I eat! Toast, eggs, and tomatoes for breakfast, Caprese sandwiches for lunch, pasta with fresh tomato sauce for dinner – I think you get the picture. For everyone not fortunate to enough to live in Louisiana, any tomatoes can easily take the place of these (I just find myself to be a little bit partial…). I’ve somewhat lost interest in leafy green salads after it became a go-to meal at the beginning of summer, so that was definitely out. While rummaging around trying to think of something, I found a loaf of rejected, slightly stale French bread and knew it was time to make a panzanella. This salad is perfect for so many reasons. Really, anything goes here. Leftover asparagus? Toss it in. Can’t find squash? Substitute a cucumber. Also, the grilled French bread makes this salad a little heartier than your typical lettuce-tomatoes-light vinaigrette combo . With the fresh grilled veggies and lemony dressing, this panzanella is sure to be a hit regardless of what you throw into it.
This salad was perfect for summer veggies, but if you stuck with different seasonal produce, definitely check out the spring and winter panzanellas over at smitten kitchen! If you’re in the mood for some cheese, this would be delicious with cubes of mozzarella or some parmesan sprinkled on top!
- 1 1/2 pounds, roughly 3, assorted bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 1 1/2 pounds squash (I chose butternut because it’s my favorite, but any squash would be delicious), cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
- 1 medium-size red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 loaf of crusty bread, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound tomatoes, sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped assorted fresh herbs, my go-to is always basil, especially during the summer
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1-2 cloves minced garlic, more or less to taste
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- Heat grill to medium/medium high. Toss bell peppers, squash, and onion together with olive oil, salt, and pepper and brush bread lightly with olive oil. Grill vegetables until tender and brown, about 4 minutes per side for peppers and squash and 3 minutes per side for onion. Grill bread until browned and crisp, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut bread into 3/4-inch pieces (like homemade croutons!); place in very large bowl. Cut grilled vegetables into 1-inch bite-size pieces; add to bread in bowl.
- Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Add dressing, tomatoes with juices, and all remaining ingredients to salad; toss. Let stand 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.