I know what you’re thinking- Panzanella is a SALAD, a salad made of a bread and tomatoes…there’s no way it makes a meal. I’m going to correct you right there folks- it can (and was) done. If you read a lot of fitness stuff, a lot of the current research promotes cutting out meat for one meal a week. Several call it “meatless Monday” because it is cute alliteration. I just happened to want Panzanella on a day that happened to be Monday. The logic is that if you cut out the meat one day a week, you actually train your body how to process the meat better. In this way, you get more out of your meat consumption when you do eat meat. It dates back to the days of hunters and gatherers; there was no guarantee that meat was going to be on the proverbial table, so as humans evolved, they evolved assuming that meat was not present at every meal. It’s kind of fascinating (and is in no way related to why I made this salad- I just wanted to) and if you want to read more, check this article out.
I was mostly just looking for a change of pace from the standard meat and veggie side dish. What I love about Panzanella is that aside from toasting bread, there is literally no cooking in this dish. It’s a lot of dump together, stir to combine, and enjoy. The other great part of Panzanella is that you can really add whatever your heart desires. Since we went meatless last night, I added chickpeas to mine to up the protein. You can add more fresh veggies, or other spices, or whatever variety of bread you like. If you wanted meat, adding pieces of salami or prosciutto would be phenomenal in this as well. It just comes down to basics: a vinaigrette you like, toasted bread, fresh mozzarella, and veggies.
Grilled Panzanella Salad (inspired by Skinnytaste’s recipe)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons basil
- 1 whole grain baguette, sliced open like a sandwich
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half
- Fresh mozzarella
- Kalamata olives
- Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Grape tomatoes, halved
This is where you can get creative: I have added artichoke hearts, capers, onion, bell peppers, etc depending on what you have on hand and the flavors you enjoy.
- In a large serving bowl, add the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly. This makes the vinaigrette.
- Preheat a grill pan or broiler on high. Toast the bread to get some marks on it. Remove from heat and cut into bite sized pieces. Add to the bowl.
- Take the rest of your ingredients. Add to the bowl, and stir to coat.
- Let sit in the fridge, covered, for at least 20-30 minutes. This will let the vinaigrette meld nicely with all your other flavors.