Healthy Grilled Panzanella Salad (gluten-free friendly!)
This grilled panzanella salad 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 (such as eggplant, mushrooms, corn or asparagus). 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 omit it for a vegetarian version.
Servings: 4 -6 people
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 large clove garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot (about 1/2 small shallot)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 anchovy, rinsed and finely chopped (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
- 2 medium yellow bell peppers, cored and seeded, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick rings
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ loaf Italian bread or 1 small gluten-free baguette* (see notes), cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch pieces
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.
Put the 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 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-inch 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 with salt and pepper to taste. 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 (the flavors will mute as it rests). Enjoy!
Do Ahead: The salad can be assembled (without the dressing) up to 1 hour in advance. Pile the vegetables, tomatoes and cheese into the bottom of a salad bowl and sprinkle the bread over top. 10-20 minutes before serving, toss the salad with the dressing. Leftovers make for a delicious lunch the next day!
- If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can use a grill pan like this. Or, you can roast the vegetables instead. Chop the vegetables into 1-inch pieces, toss them on a large baking sheet with the a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roast them at 400 degrees until tender, about 20 minutes.
- I use one small Udi’s Gluten-Free French Baguette (half a package) for this recipe, but you can half a loaf of Italian bread or half of a regular baguette instead. Instead of grilling the bread, you can toast it in a 400 degree F oven until crisp, about 5-10 minutes.