Heat is inhospitable to growing lettuce so the main traditional European summer salads are ones that shine without it: Panzanella and Nicoise.
Now that glorious summer vegetables, like tomatoes, squash, and eggplant, have arrived, Black Cat Farm-Table-Bistro is offering panzanella on its menu.
In keeping with the season, the grill takes center stage in making Eric’s version of Panzanella, saving you from heating up your kitchen and getting you into the backyard. Eric also makes use of the European summer tradition of using the whole leaves of tender herbs, like basil and parsley, in lieu of lettuce in his panzanella.
This panzanella recipe is adapted from the summer panzanella recipe in Eric’s upcoming new cookbook, “Farm, Fork, Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes Inspired by Black Cat Farm.” The cookbook will be published on October 7th and is now available for pre-order through: Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
1 onion, sliced
2 summer squash/zucchini, small to medium, preferably different colors, sliced
2 bulbs fennel, sliced
1 eggplant, small to medium
2 cups of tomatoes, chopped, sliced, or chunked
3 slices, sourdough bread
Salt to taste
2 cups basil leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
2 cups Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Toasted Italian or Chinese pine nuts (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons sunflower or grapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt to taste
1. Fire up the grill.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the onion, summer squash, fennel, eggplant, and sourdough bread with enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Lightly salt. Transfer the vegetables and bread to the grill.
2. Lightly grill until the vegetables are tender and the bread crisp.
3. Chop the grilled ingredients and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the basil, arugula, parsley, cheese, and, optionally, toasted pine nuts to the mixing bowl.
5. Create the vinaigrette by combining the red wine vinegar, garlic, thyme, and salt. Drizzle in the sunflower or grape seed oil while whisking. After the vinaigrette has emulsified, remove the garlic and thyme.
6. Add the vinaigrette to the vegetables, herbs, and bread mixture. Vigorously toss to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.
Photo credit: Michela Simoncini/Creative Commons