Grilling, Side dish
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Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella)

Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella)

When the first tomatoes of summer arrive, I’m wriggling with excitement. I eat them straight – sliced and sprinkled with a little salt. Nothing else. Don’t get between me and my fresh tomatoes.

Then, a few weeks pass…the tomatoes still taste delicious and all, but…well…I get bored. They were summer’s glory, all in one red, ripe package; now they’re “Five pounds of tomatoes from the CSA? But I still have a couple left over from last week!”

That’s when the recipes come out. I make salsa (lots of salsa) and gazpacho. And, when I’m grilling, I make this bread salad.

It’s a perfect summer recipe – marinate the tomatoes in a garlicky red wine vinaigrette, grill the bread quickly, and sprinkle with some minced herbs. I still get the glory of summer, but it seems…new, somehow.

Recipe: Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes


  • Grill (I love my Weber Summit…but any grill will do. My beloved 6 burner is massive overkill for this recipe.)


  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 (1 inch thick) slices crusty bread
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Red Wine Vinaigrette with Garlic

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil, sliced thin (chiffonade)


1. Make the vinaigrette and marinate the tomatoes

In a medium bowl, whisk the red wine vinaigrette ingredients with a side-to-side motion until the oil and vinegar emulsify, about one minute. Add the chopped tomatoes to the bowl, toss to coat with vinaigrette, and set aside to marinate.

2. Set the grill for direct medium heat

Set the grill up for direct medium heat. On my Weber Summit, I preheat the grill with all burners on high for 15 minutes, then brush the grill grate clean and turn the burners down to medium.

3. Grill the bread

Drizzle one side of the bread with a little olive oil, then put the bread on the grill grate over direct medium heat, olive oil side up. Grill until the bread has good grill marks on the bottom – about one minute. Flip the bread, olive oil side down, and grill until it has good grill marks, about one minute. Remove the bread immediately to a plate. (Check the bread often while you are grilling – it goes from browned to burnt in a flash.)

4. Chop the bread, toss the salad

Let the bread sit for a couple of minutes, until it is cool enough to handle. Slice the bread into 1 inch chunks. (Or tear it into pieces, if you want a more rustic look.) Toss the bread with the marinated tomatoes, then spoon onto serving plates and sprinkle with Parmesan, parsley, and basil. Serve.


  • I hope it goes without saying – this recipe depends on fresh summer tomatoes. If you’re desperate for a tomato fix in winter, use cherry or grape tomatoes from the grocery store. They won’t be as good as peak summer tomatoes, but they beat the red Styrofoam sold as tomatoes out of season.
  • Most times I recommend closing the grill lid when using a gas grill. Not this time! Bread wants to burn on the grill, especially when you’ve drizzled olive oil all over it. Watch it like…like…I don’t know, just watch it carefully, OK?
  • If you don’t watch it carefully, and the bread burns, take the bread to the sink and use a butter knife to scrape off as much of the carbonized bread as possible. (Hey, it worked for my breakfast toast when I was a kid.)

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Grilled Tomato-Tomatillo Salsa
Grilled Tomato and Habaerno Salsa (Chiltomate)
Fresh Tomato Gazpacho (in a Vitamix)

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  1. Try the cooks illustrated trick – salt the tomatoes, leave in colander for 30 minutes, then toss the bread in the tomato water. Sometimes I spin the tomatoes in a salad spinner too (another CI trick) to extract more water. Let the bread sit in the water for 10 minutes then toss with tomatoes etc.

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