Summer bounty: Grilled panzanella salad

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Aren’t we loving this part of summer, with all the fresh tomatoes and basil?  I sure wish we had a longer growing season here in Michigan.  Here’s a great summer salad that uses all those tomatoes and basil and is as beautiful as it is delicious.


Panzanella salad in Italy was used as a way to make use of leftover, stale bread. You would take the bread and soak it in water until it had softened up a bit and toss it with onions and tomatoes. My favorite way to make panzanella salad, though, is to grill the bread, toss it with tomatoes, basil and cheese and drizzle a little oil and vinegar over it.

Use really good quality olive oil if you can – it makes a big difference!


Grilled Panzanella Salad


serves 6

for a printable recipe, click here

Ingredient quantities here are approximate. Adjust them any way you like. 


  • 1 small loaf good quality bread
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch basil leaves
  • 1 8-ounce tub mozzarella balls, “ciliegini”, packed in water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I like red wine or herb)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper



Prepare a grill or, if you can’t grill outside, heat a grill pan on the stove. Slice the bread into 1-inch thick slices. Grill both sides until golden. Rub the grilled bread with the raw garlic.  Tear the bread into bite sized chunks and place in a large serving bowl and add the cherry tomatoes.

Tear the basil leaves into the serving bowl. Drain the mozzarella balls and add them to the serving bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lots of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss everything well and serve.

About The Italian Dish 29 Articles
My name is Elaine and I live in neighboring Okemos. My mother, Angela, was from Italy and I guess I just have that Italian gene in me — I love to feed people. I began this blog to teach people how to cook. It pains me that so many people do not cook for themselves and instead order carryout five nights a week. Cooking from scratch is much easier than most people think. It's healthier and cheaper. Cook along with me — I'll show you how. I love photography and, in a previous life, was a painter. My food photography enables me to really show you how to create things, step by step. I love the beauty of food and the creativity of the kitchen. Developing my own recipes is just another way to fill a canvas. I hope you enjoy what I love so much — cooking for people and the joy of the table.