Last Saturday, I had the great privilege of cooking out at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market as the guest chef, and meeting many of you who read my column and cook my recipes. To those who stopped by my tent to introduce themselves, thanks so much; I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces and getting to know some new ones too.
When I come to the market to cook, my challenge is always using the ingredients from the market to create a Some Kinda Good dish, while in the process, hopefully introducing others to a fresh way to cook with what's local and in season now. Today, I'll share the recipe for my Grilled Panzanella Salad, the same dish I served up on Saturday, in hopes that many of you will make it at home and continue to support the local farmers who work hard to grow the abundant fruits and vegetables we are so fortunate to have in our local community.
Grilled Panzanella is simply a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes; a celebration of spring and summertime in a bowl. With Memorial Day weekend upon us, it would be the absolute perfect complement to your outdoor menu, such as grilled hamburgers and a fresh fruit tart.
I received a lot of compliments when market-goers tasted my free samples on Saturday, but my favorite came from one gentleman who said, "It tastes like Italy." He told me of a recent trip to Naples and asked how I had prepared the bread. It was the olive oil and the splash of balsamic vinegar that had taken him for a walk down memory lane. One woman even asked if I sold the salad. Now, there's an idea. High praise!
The thing that makes this salad extra special is the combination of grilled and raw vegetables. The tomatoes and cucumbers are simply chopped and seasoned, and the fresh herbs add such an aromatic and pungent bite. At the market, the baby yellow squash and zucchini were abundant, along with the bright purple radishes. So, I took advantage of what was available. Traditionally, bell peppers are featured in the salad, but by all means, use whatever vegetables you enjoy. This recipe is a guide for the most colorful flavor combinations you can imagine.
Grilled Panzanella Salad
• 1 large red bell peppers, quartered
• 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
• 1 medium red onion, quartered
• 1 cucumber, sliced into half-moon pieces
• 2 medium tomatoes, halved
• 1 loaf of French or Italian bread, halved lengthwise
• 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
• Balsamic vinegar
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Fresh parmesan, if desired
Brush grill with olive oil, season vegetables with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill bell peppers, zucchini and onion for about 4-5 minutes, turning once until grill marks are visible. Chop the grilled vegetables into bite size pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cucumber into the same bowl. Remove bread from grill, cut into cubes and toss together with the vegetables. Drizzle the mixture with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just enough to dress the salad lightly, and season with more salt and pepper. Add in fresh basil and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top.
Visit SomeKindaGood.com for a video demonstration on how to cook this recipe, and don't forget to mark your calendars for June 10 at 9 p.m. for the Season 14 Premier of Food Network Star. Yours truly will be on the big screen cooking up a Southern storm. Have a Happy Memorial Day!
Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a food enthusiast, writer and the cooking show host of SKG-TV on YouTube. A Season 14 finalist on Food Network Star, she is the personality behind the blog, SomeKindaGood.com. Rebekah is a Georgia Southern University alumna and attended Savannah Technical College’s Culinary Institute of Savannah. Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good, tweet her @SKGFoodBlog or visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.