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This Healthy Grilled Panzanella Salad Recipe Tastes Like Summer

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Panzanella salad. Photos by Nicki Sizemore

With creamy mozzarella, grilled bread, and a garlicky red wine vinaigrette, this recipe is all about seasonal flavor in the Valley.

Yes, you should be eating salad all year long but we bet you agree that nothing tastes better than fresh, local, seasonal leafy greens and veggies. To help you build a better bowl we asked Nicki Sizemore for a few easy, innovative ideas. The Cold Spring-based chef, cookbook author, and food blogger (fromscratchfast.com) focuses on healthy, flavor-packed recipes. Here are three to toss up for light, refreshing main dish meals.

This recipe incorporates a bounty of summer vegetables into one of the best salads ever. With creamy mozzarella, grilled bread, and a garlicky red wine vinaigrette, it’s a healthy meal or side dish that’s packed with flavor and texture. Feel free to use other vegetables according to what you have or like. Also, you can swap out the mozzarella for other sources of protein, such as grilled chicken, canned white beans, feta cheese or good quality jarred tuna. I often add grated Parmesan as well (simply because I love it). The anchovy in the dressing adds depth and complexity to the vinaigrette, but you won’t taste it. However, you can leave it out for a vegetarian version.

grilled salad

Panzanella salad. By Nicki Sizemore

Grilled Panzanella Salad

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4–6 as a main course, 8–10 as a side dish

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 anchovy, rinsed and finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad

  • 2 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut lengthwise into ½-in-thick slabs
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, cored and seeded, cut into 2-in pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into ¼-in-thick rings
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ loaf Italian bread or 1 small gluten-free baguette, cut into 1-in-thick slices
  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • ½ lb fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-in pieces

Related: This Quick Squash Lasagna Is the Perfect Weeknight Dinner

Instructions:

Make the vinaigrette

In a small bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, grated garlic, shallot, oregano, and anchovy (if using). Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.

Do ahead: The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Grill the veggies and assemble the salad

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Place zucchini, peppers, and red onion slices on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat. Grill the vegetables, flipping once, until they’re crisp-tender with grill marks on both sides, about 2 minutes per side for the zucchini and 3–4 minutes per side for the onion and peppers. Transfer the vegetables back to the baking sheet, and let cool.

Do ahead: The grilled vegetables can be refrigerated for up 4 days before using.

Grill the slices of bread until toasted with grill marks on both sides, about 1–3 minutes total. Cut the vegetables and bread into 1-in pieces, and place them in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Let the salad sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, toss the salad and taste it again— add more salt and pepper if needed, and if the salad tastes a bit flat, drizzle in a bit more red wine vinegar.

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