My Mom and I first had a Panzanella salad a few years ago. It was at an event that took place in the middle of the summer, on a ranch, outside. It was hot and fairly miserable. The thought of eating anything hot was not appetizing at all. This beautiful salad was served before the main course, it was cool, flavorful and downright pretty. We quickly ran home, lurked up a recipe and this has been a staple in our world since. I noticed some recipes don’t include the mozzarella balls, and that is a big mistake. Those little marinaded cheese balls make this salad. It’s my favorite part. And using good balsamic is a must too, something about the sweetness of it really compliments this dish. If you don’t have zucchini, a cucumber can be used instead and you don’t have to grill it.
- 1/2 loaf’s worth of good crusty bread made into croutons (recipe here)
- 1.5 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium zucchini, treated for moisture and lightly grilled (I’ll cover this later)
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 container (who am I kidding? Use two, it’s the best part!) marinaded mozzarella balls
- 20 to 25 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- 1/3 cup oil reserved from marinaded mozzarella (or you can use olive oil)
- 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
Slice zucchini into rounds and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, the salt will draw out some of the moisture. Do that for each side of your sliced zucchini. Blotting with towels remove excess salt. I like to grill my zucchini for about 3 minutes on each side or until I get nice grill marks. Cool, and cut into bite sized pieces.
Combine the first 6 ingredients in large mixing bowl. Toss to mix. In a separate bowl mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and mustard. Mix well. Pour the vinaigrette over the rest of the salad.
Let chill for 30 minutes before serving.