This grilled ganzanella is a riff on classic Tuscan bread salad, an Italian staple that tosses day-old bread with tomatoes and olive oil. It tastes spectacularly complex for something so simple. And just wait’ll you try this version with grilled bread. No waiting for bread to go stale. Still frugal. And fabulous.
Grilled Panzanella Salad
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4 to 6
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil, olive oil, and salt, and season with a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Let sit at room temperature until the juices from the tomatoes release and create a kind of dressing, about 30 minutes. (We know. You’re in a rush. But trust us when we tell you waiting a half hour makes quite a difference in terms of allowing the flavors to meld.)
Meanwhile, preheat your grill to medium.
Lightly brush both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Grill the bread, turning once, until slightly toasted and golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the bread from the heat and rub the toasted bread all over with the cut side of the garlic.
Cut the grilled bread into 1/2-inch chunks. You can set the grilled bread aside at room temperature for a while if you’re not eating right away.
When ready to serve, toss the tomato mixture with the mozzarella and grilled bread and divide the panzanella among 4 plates. Taste and adjust the amounts of oil, salt, or pepper accordingly and, if desired, dribble with vinegar and toss again. Serve at once so the bread doesn’t turn soggy. Originally published August 3, 2015.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This panzanella recipe was one of the most flavorful and fragrant summer recipes I've ever made. The method was so easy and the ingredients easy to come by and cheap, yet this recipe was absolutely fantastic and so much more than the sum of its parts.
I combined the tomato, onion, basil, oil, and salt, added black pepper that I crushed in a mortar and pestle, and let everything sit for 25 minutes at room temperature. It's very fragrant both at this stage and when storing, so any tomato-haters in the vicinity, be warned. Meanwhile, I preheated the grill to medium and brushed each slice of bread with olive oil. I discarded the heels of the bread and used only slices from the middle portions of the loaf. I grilled the bread for about 4 minutes on each side, but the last few pieces took only about 3 minutes. I rubbed the bread on each side with the garlic—this was easiest on the pieces of bread that got a little more charred towards the end of the grilling. I cut the bread into about 1/2-inch chunks and tossed it with the tomato mixture.
At first I was worried about the bread cubes being too large, but after they sat with the tomatoes and soaked up some of the juices, the larger chunks were actually better because they soaked up a lot of juice yet managed to stay crisp. The garlic bread cubes were the real highlight—so tasty and flavorful but not overpowering.
This panzanella recipe was the perfect way to celebrate the first day of summer. Even with regular grocery-store tomatoes, it was delicious, so I imagine that homegrown or heirloom tomatoes would take the dish to another level. It took about 30 minutes to pull together at a very relaxed pace—you could definitely multitask and get another element of the meal done at the same time if you're not serving this on its own. Having said that, I think this would work best on its own, as the portions were large—perhaps as an alfresco lunch?
When I make this again, I might add more basil, but my fellow tester thought it was perfectly balanced as is. My only word of warning is that the garlic bread is powerful— in other words, make sure everyone at the party has a serving of this.