Everywhere you look, there are fresh tomatoes. Farmers markets, grocery stores, private road side stands and forget it if you have your own plants. The simple tomato sandwich with mayo, salt and pepper on white bread is something we can only dream of during the winter. However, when we get into the heart of the summer and we’ve eaten our weight in tomato sandwiches, it is time to try a few new recipes. Panzanella is a bread salad; Italians long ago combined stale bread with garden fresh vegetables to use up what was available and to also utilize bread that was slightly past fresh. Only use this recipe as a guide, add more tomatoes, use less peppers or supplement with another fresh vegetable that you have an overabundance of. You will quickly discover that you have your own version. If you don’t grow your own tomatoes and are looking for the freshest ones possible in our area visit a farmers market, or a store that purchases local produce like The Fresh Market. Looking to pick out your own? Visit Patterson Farm Market & Tours, Inc., 10390 Caldwell Road, Mount Ulla, NC. Summer hours are Monday-Saturday 9:00-6:00, Closed Sunday. Call 704-636-4005 for more information or to schedule a tour.
Grilled Panzanella SaladServes 4 to 6 as a Side Item Salad:
1 Each Italian Style or Country Loaf Bread-about 1 1/2 pounds
6 Each Roma Tomato-cut in half, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
1 Each Small Red Onion-cut into thick slices, brush with olive, season with salt & pepper
1 Each Red Bell Pepper-charred, cooled, skin and seeds removed, cut into strips
1 Each Yellow Bell Pepper-charred, cooled, skin and seeds removed, cut into strips
1/4 Cup Capers Vinaigrette:
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic-chopped fine
8 to 10 Leaves Fresh Basil– rough chopped
2 Each Anchovy Filets-optional, chopped fine
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil-plus extra for brushing the bread
To Taste Kosher Salt
To Taste Black Pepper Preheat grill to medium high heat. Slice bread into 1 inch thick slices, place on a sheet tray and brush both sides with olive oil. Lightly grill on both sides. Cut grilled bread into bite size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Grill tomatoes lightly, drain and cool, reserving any liquid that comes from the tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into bite sized pieces and place in the mixing bowl along with the bread. Add any liquid that remains on the cutting board to the reserved tomato liquid from draining. Grill onions lightly on both sides, cool, rough chop and also place in the mixing bowl. To the bread, tomatoes and onions add the capers, red and yellow bell peppers mix to combine. Vinaigrette: In a separate mixing bowl add the reserved tomato liquid, garlic, basil, anchovies, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Using a wire whip mix together and then begin slowly adding the olive oil while continuing to mix until all of the oil has been incorporated. Assemble: Add a little of the vinaigrette to the bread and tomato mixture at a time toss to coat. Continue adding the vinaigrette a little at a time while mixing until all of the vinaigrette has been added. Let panzanella salad set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.