Friday, August 24, 2012

Cheese Focaccia Panzanella with Grilled Ratatouille

Here's another wonderful salad perfect for summer!

This salad is a take on the traditional Italian dish, Panzanella, which is a salad made with ingredients such as tomatoes and bread.  I love Panzanella and I first tried it when my Mom and I went to Italy.  So popular in Rome, this dish made such an impression that I've been making a traditional version for years.  But...this time I wanted to twist it up a bit by adding grilled vegetables.  Ones that you would typically find in a Ratatouille.  The combination is outstanding!

To make it interesting I used a cheese focaccia bread that I grilled and then cubed.  It gives the salad extra flavor and a little flair!  If you can't find the cheese focaccia, a good crusty Italian country bread will be perfect, or crusty french bread for that matter.  

The grilled vegetables bring depth of flavor to the salad.  Eggplant, zucchini, red onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes taste wonderful grilled.  Other special additions are little cubes of mozzarella and a killer vinaigrette.  There is nothing better than bringing fresh seasonal ingredients together in a different combination that allows their flavors to just shine and be the star of the dish!

All together this salad is a winner!  You can put this together in under 30 minutes.  It's great for a weeknight meal and for those that want to enjoy a meatless dish. 

I hope you love this dish as much as we did!

Cheese Focaccia Panzanella with Grilled Ratatouille

Makes: 4 servings

½ lb. assorted sweet peppers, halved and seeds and membranes removed
1 eggplant, cut into ½ inch thick slices
½ lb zucchini, cut lengthwise into thin strips
½  red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
1/3 of a loaf of cheese foccacia, split in half and cut each half in to 4 pieces (8 pieces total) 
2 T olive oil
¼ t salt
¼ t ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, halved
1/3 c olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T finely shredded lemon peel
6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
Salt & pepper
½ c chopped parsley

Lightly brush all sides of the peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and bread slices lightly with the 2 tablespoons oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Grill vegetables in a grill pan over medium heat until vegetables are crisp-tender, turning occasionally.   About 10 minutes total.  Remove vegetables from grill.   Allow to cool enough to handle.  Cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces.   Set aside.

Grill bread about 4 minutes or until browned and crisp, turning occasionally.   Cool slightly.   Rub bread with cut sides of garlic.  Cut into 1 inch pieces. 

Place grilled vegetables in a large bowl.  Add bread to vegetables.

For dressing, in a small mason jar add 1/3 cup oil, the vinegar, and lemon peel.  Shake to blend.   Season to taste with salt and black pepper.   Add the dressing to the grilled vegetables and bread.  Add your cubed mozzarella.   Toss gently to combine.   Toss with parsley and serve.

linked to:  Full Plate Thursday
Weekend Potluck

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