Grilled Five-Herb Vegetable Panzanella
I love bread salads, which combine the best of the starch and vegetable worlds. This version is particularly tasty, as you get an array of great veggies, including eggplant and fennel, plus crispy, vinaigrette-flavored croutons that give your choppers a nice workout.
1 small eggplant, ends trimmed, and cut lengthwise into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices
1 large red onion, root and stem ends trimmed and cut into 1⁄4-inch slices
1 large fennel, halved, cored, halved again, and cut lengthwise into 1⁄4-inch thick slices
2 red bell peppers, halved, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
1 cup Five-Herb Vinaigrette
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups French or Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- Prepare an outdoor grill and heat to hot, or preheat the broiler.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, onion, fennel, peppers, and 3⁄4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Grill or broil the vegetables, turning often, until brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board, stacking them evenly, to finish cooking. Meanwhile, grill the bread, or toast it under the broiler, turning it often until evenly golden, about 5 minutes.
- Chop the vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Just before serving, toss the croutons with the remaining vinaigrette, then toss the croutons with the vegetables. Correct the seasoning with the salt and pepper and serve from the bowl.
WineGrape type: Sauvignon Blanc
Characteristics: Crisp, mineral, limey, refreshing herbal perfume
Recommendations: Shaw and Smith (Adelaide Hills, Australia); Neil Ellis (Groene Kloof, South Africa)