June 20, 2021
Grilled Panzanella Salad
Grilled Panzanella Salad! One of my favorite sharing recipes for summer.
Serves 4-6

The perfect potluck salad for summer. Grilled Panzanella Salad with zucchini, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, sourdough bread and a tangy basil dressing. 

Grilled Panzanella Salad

This grilled panzanella salad recipe is my attempt to reclaim the roasted vegetable sandwich. As a long time vegetarian, I’ve had my share of really terrible, soggy vegetable sandwiches. The de-facto choice for most restaurants who don’t care to cater to meatless guests. An afterthought of what to serve– a few slices of grilled vegetables in between bread (usually with some cheese) and that’s it. 

I’ve eaten them, you’ve eaten them and it’s enough that I rarely order them anymore unless I know they are good. There is a mile between the good and the bad; when it’s good, they are really good (hello homemade pesto sauce in between the layers, or grilled like my grilled eggplant panini) and when it’s bad well, you know. 

grilled panzanella salad with basil dressing

Well this is not that. This grilled panzanella salad is one of my favorite ways to celebrate summer. It’s packed with all of my seasonal favorites– eggplant, squash, zucchini, tomatoes– alongside good, crusty bread and then best basil dressing. 

It reclaims the idea that grilled vegetables are boring or soggy. Every bite is packed with bright, punchy flavor and I promise that once you try this one, you are going to make it again and again. 

overhead shot of panzanella salad

What goes with panzanella salad? 

My absolute favorite meal is grilled corn on the cob and this salad.  Maybe another green option or some sliced, grilled tofu if I want a heartier meal. 

Growing up, my mom’s go-to summer meal was corn on the cob, tomato salad and bread. We dined on that at least 1-2x a week in the summer and that experience has fully cemented my love for corn, bread and tomatoes as an acceptable dinner meal. 

It’s also the perfect side dish for any grilled protein. My grilled tofu kebobs would be the perfect companion to this meal. For easier prep, you can double the basil dressing as a marinade instead of the mint pesto that recipe calls for. 

vegan grilled panzanella salad

Tips for success:

Using a crusty, few days old bread will yield the best results. Panzanella is traditionally made with leftover, stale bread soaked in yummy tomato juices and olive oil and that’s the same experience we are going for here. 

Bread that is too fresh will become soft and soggy when combined with the dressing. I prefer a crusty ciabatta or sourdough for this one, but any french or Italian loaf will work.

Grilled Panzanella Salad with Basil Dressing

Can I add other ingredients?

If I’m making this more of a meal, then I’ll often grill some tofu to cube and toss in as well. White beans, chickpeas or even mozzarella balls for a vegetarian version work well. 

Eggplant can be polarizing, and can be omitted in place of other vegetables like green beans or more squash. 

Grilledd Panzanella Salad with Basil Dressing

Can I make this grilled panzanella salad recipe ahead of time?

I first created this recipe for a bridal shower almost a decade ago and have served it for numerous celebrations ever since. It’s fantastic to prep ahead of time. 

To do so, I recommend grilling the vegetables and placing into a large container, then storing the grilled bread and dressing in separate containers. When ready to serve, toss together until just combined and serve. This ensures that the bread won’t get too soggy as it sits. 

close up shot of grilled panzanella salad with basil dressing basil dressing for salad

More Summer Salad Recipes:

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Chopped Italian Pasta Salad
Marinated White Bean Salad
Lemon Potato Salad
Mexican Avocado Salad
Kale, Peach and Cabbage Slaw
Grilled Corn and Farro Salad 

vegan grilled panzanella salad

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grilled panzanella salad with basil dressing

Grilled Panzanella Salad

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, lunch, side dish
  • Method: grill
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Grilled Panzanella Salad! The best potluck salad for summer. Grilled zucchini, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, sourdough bread and a bright, tangy basil dressing.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, lunch, side dish
  • Method: grill
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, lunch, side dish
  • Method: grill
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Italian eggplant, sliced into 1-inch thick lengthwise slices
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into 2 inch slices
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta or sourdough bread, split in half horizontally*

Basil Dressing

  • 1 cup fresh basil, tightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat, or light a grill to medium high heat.**
  2. Lightly brush the eggplant with a little oil (I use a pastry brush to do this) and place oiled side down on the grill or grill pan. Lightly brush the halved zucchini and squash with oil and place on the grill as well. Season with a little salt and pepper then cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway and brushing with more oil as desired. Remove, let cool slightly and cube. Place in a large bowl and continue with the rest of the vegetables.
  3. Add the pepper to the grill and cook until lightly charred, turning until cooked all over, about 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and place into a large bowl, then cover tightly with a kitchen towel. This will allow the pepper to steam and make the charred skin easier to remove. After 10 minutes, when the pepper is easier to handle, gently remove the charred skin (it should be easy to peel off, but you can use a paring knife if needed) then cube and place in the bowl with the squash.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the grill pan or, if using a grill, place the tomatoes in a grill pan so they don’t slip through the grates. Alternatively, you can place the tomatoes in a piece of foil with the sides gently folded up to create a makeshift basket. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook for 5-6 minutes, shaking often to turn the tomatoes until the are lightly charred all over and juices start to release. Place in the same bowl as the squash and peppers.
  5. Place the sliced bread onto the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until lightly charred with grill marks. Remove and tear into large pieces or cube and place in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Place the basil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard along with a pinch of salt and pepper in the base of a blender and puree until mostly chopped. With the motor running, add in the olive oil until a creamy dressing forms. Add to the bowl with the roasted vegetables and toss until just combined. Season to taste, adding more salt and freshly ground pepper as desired.

Notes

*Ideally, the bread should be a few days old. Fresh bread will become too soggy in this recipe.

**If you are using a grill pan instead of the grill, it’s easier to slice the zucchini, squash, and eggplant into thin slabs, then grill and cube.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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