Summer Bread Salad
In this month’s recipe the star ingredient is fresh, juicy summer tomatoes–heirloom varieties in particular. Tomatoes and bread are two of my favorite foods, e.g., tomato sandwiches, pizza, bruschetta, etc., and I’m expanding on the theme by adding some lettuce, veggies, and a zesty dressing for my version of a bread salad.
Panzanella may be the most well-known variation of a bread salad, and it is simply a mixture of some type of lettuce, tomatoes, stale (soaked or not) or toasted bread, onions, fresh basil and a tangy Italian-style dressing. Another delicious bread salad is the Middle Eastern Fattoush, combining salad greens, tomatoes, pan-fried pita or flat bread, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, parsley, and a tart sumac spiced dressing.
My bread salad is inspired by both of these international classics, combining ingredients and flavors from the panzanella and fattoush, and then taking it to another tasty place with some fresh Hatch chile peppers that are having their much-celebrated season right now.
Start with some chopped romaine lettuce and add in the tomatoes, cubed ciabatta bread, mini cucumbers, watermelon radishes (because they’re gorgeous and delicious), red onions, Hatch peppers, basil and cilantro or parsley. Do take advantage of any hot grill nearby and nicely char sliced ciabatta before cutting it into cubes. You can grill the Hatch peppers too – it's up to you. And toss in some chickpeas for extra protein.
The dressing is extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon pepper or lemon zest, salt and fresh garlic. When drizzled over and tossed with the tomatoes, grilled bread, and other stellar ingredients, the result is a fantastic, fresh, sensational summer bread salad that I hope you’ll enjoy all season long.
Summer Bread Salad
For the dressing:
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon lemon pepper or lemon zest
1 ½ tablespoons garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
For the salad:
6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
2 ½ cups heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups mini-cucumbers, cubed
½ cup red onion, diced
1 cup watermelon radishes, diced
1 cup Hatch chile peppers, diced
1 package peeled & steamed chickpeas
2 ½ cups ciabatta bread, sliced, grilled or toasted, and cubed
Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk everything together. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Add the dressing to the bowl and toss until everything is well coated.
Serve and enjoy!